Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Do Middle Class Ghanaians Care About Mining?


Few Ghanaians either care or make the effort to care about the issue of mining, and this is not because they are as naturally apathetic to causes as I sometimes make out in this blog. I suspect it also has a lot to do with insufficient information about developments in the country.

For example, there has been a lot of noise this week and last about the reading of the 2010 budget. As ever, it has been turned into an NDC-NPP affair of polar opposites where the opposition NPP see it fit to condemn and condemn some more some of the aspects of the budget not necessarily because it lacks coherence, but simply because it is coming from the incumbent government. The NDC are also wont to react rather than offer substantive comments that would facilitate bipartisan discussion. Still, this is what we have become used to in Ghana.

So much so that when the government announced that mining royalties would be raised to around 6% in lieu of the paltry amount thbe last government accepted to give back to the country, few media houses touched on it, preferring to gloss over some of the more substantive proposals.

The meeting that I was in for three days last week discussed the issue of mining, but in a more holistic way. Organised by TWN-Africa, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, ECOWAS, and the AU, the meeting sought to take inputs from--what the international community like to call --"relevant stakeholders" (i.e. civil society, policy officials, ECOWAS, AU, UNECA officials) to revise the work of the so-called International Studies Group(established since 2007) who have gone very far in creating a framework on the mining regime not just for West Africa but for ALL Africans.

One can imagine that I would have been in my element being surrounded by the kind of people, which policies I like to write about often. But I was also seriously outraged.


The guy in this picture is Ayoub Ziad of the African Union Commission. The guy is a director in one of the AU units responsible for the drafting and reviewing of an industrial policy for the AU countries, yet the guy had to have his laptop in front of him before he could speak! A good, old director! I do not doubt that apart from his cigarettes, he knows his stuff, but his ineloquent style defied belief.

The Libyan AU Official rarely spoke--except at the end of the meeting when they were doing closing statements, and I could not for the life of me understand how we get officials like this at the African Union!

Some of us are burning out, burning out, feeling the need to make substantive contributions to our sub-region and our continent, and our being stymied and frustrated because of the kind of leaders we continue to have in areas where some of us could play serious roles.

If that is not sufficient to get one outraged, I do not know what is!

More seriously, though, mining might not mean to the average middle class Ghanaian blogger, but I do hope that this post provides some insight into how far the debate and discourse has gone on a framework for ALL African countries to not have their minerals totally expropriated by rapacious mining regimes.


More information can be found on the website of Third World Network-Africa: http://www.twnafrica.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&id=54:mining&Itemid=60&layout=default, and the African Union website as well...
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