You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2015 04 22Article 355460

Opinions of Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Columnist: The National Forum

Resource curse/blessing?


Ghana was nicknamed by the early Europeans who invaded our soil as Gold Coast like they named Ivory Coast simply according to the particular natural mineral they found here and there.

We have other minerals too; diamond, bauxite, iron etc. Recently we found oil in commercial quantities in addition to the huge salt deposits which we are told can only be comparable by Senegal in the whole the West African sub-region which remain unmined because of Chieftaincy disputes.
We have mined gold in Ghana for about a hundred years yet have no gold refinery and have had to rely on refineries elsewhere particularly in South Africa in order to secure an assayer's stamp which is a requirement on any gold bar that enters the world market to give details of quality and country of origin.

Our last attempt at securing a gold refinery at Tarkwa was truncated by the gruesome February 24, 1966 murderous coup d'état. No regime has found it wise and necessary to create or procure one. The gold extracted from Ghana is therefore at the mercy of Neo-Apartheid South Africa to dictate it place of origin.

Water bodies have been destroyed. Farm lands rendered waste. The soil in general has been contaminated giving a high presence of chemicals inimical to human growth and development in the crops and fruits produced from mining areas. The air we breadth is polluted. Life is generally endangered by the activity of miners be at the large or small scale.

Life and property have been destroyed. Indigene sources of livelihood have been destroyed turning some otherwise productive young men and women into criminals and prostitutes. An ISSER research somewhere in 2003/4 concluded rather paradoxically that "the closer you get to mining communities, the more visible poverty is."

Our approach to the oil exploitation, revenue generation and distribution from the oil wealth show a complete neglect or non-incorporation of lessons from the exploitation of gold at least. We seem not to have learnt any lesson from the nations who have exploited oil for years yet have nothing to show for it like Nigeria, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea etc. Why?

Contrary to the law on the management of our oil revenue dictating a limited number of sectors to spend our oil money, government has spread the meagre resources over more than 18 sectors leading to the situation where no project is in sight of completion. Worse among the sectors penned to receive oil cash is the Office of the President. For what?

The latest Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, EITI report indicate that government is failing in the release of royalties from the extractive revenues. There is serious doubt as to how useful and beneficial government is protecting the Heritage and Stabilization Funds which were both set up especially in consideration of the fact that these resources are non-renewable and would run out some day.

We are bent on following the old rueful path which has brought us sadly into this paradox of poverty in the midst of plenty and scarcity in the midst of abundance. When shall we learn to depart from our wrong ways and take the commanding heights of being masters of our own resources – Our Destiny?

Only love of country, patriotism, selflessness, sincerity and honesty can lead us there and make Ghana indeed great and strong. We must make Ghana work again for the Ghanaian people.