Ghana: Communities see no value in feat of country being largest producer of gold as they continue to live in poverty
‘Hopelessness envelopes Ghana’s mining towns even as country becomes top gold producer’ 10 July 2019
Recently, Ghana became the largest gold producer in Africa after overtaking South Africa but some residents of mining communities in Ghana doubt the significance of this feat, claiming that it would have no meaningful impact on their lives. During a visit to some mining communities in Western Ghana residents expressed how they are appalled by the deplorable state they have lived in for years as they exuded little hope of a better future. On June 10, 2019, Bloomberg reported that Ghana has overtaken South Africa to become the largest gold producer in Africa… But, Joshua Blay, a 42-year old resident of Tarkwa, told ghanabusinessnews.com in an interview that mining has been going on in Tarkwa for over a century yet residents continue to live in abject poverty, adding that, he expects nothing to change with the country’s new position on the global gold market. “For us, this is no news. We’ve been living in this condition for many years despite all the resources that is taken from here. Nothing will change,” he maintained.
Tarkwa is the host of big mining firms including Anglogold Ashanti, Goldfields and the Ghana Manganese Company Limited but the town is bedeviled with poor sanitation, bad road networks, inadequate potable water and high youth unemployment. The situation is even worse in Prestea, another mining town which hosts the Canadian mining firm, Golden Star Resources. John Anderson, a cocoa farmer in Prestea, narrated how residents of the community grapple with pollution from dust on daily basis because almost all the roads in the community are not tarred. “We live in a town with abundant gold deposits but we have nothing to show for it. It’s sad,” he said. Anderson, who is now 61, recalled that not much has changed in the town in terms of social infrastructure since his youthful days. “The roads had always been bad. We’d always struggled for water. Erratic electricity supply is not a new story,” he said.
Unlike its petroleum sector, Ghana has no law guiding how revenues from mining are to be utilized except for royalties. This has partly contributed to the poor state of mining communities in the country as there is little effort to channel part of the mining revenues into developing these communities. Revenues collected from mining in the form of taxes and dividends are deposited into the Consolidated Fund, government’s central revenue pool, and utilized as the government deems fit. Only revenues accruing from royalties are allocated according to a formula spelt out by legislation – the Minerals Development Fund (Act 912), which paves way for some revenues to be channeled back into the development of the mining communities. …“It’s high time we ensured the proper management of our mineral revenues and we believe that this bill is in the right direction,” said Solomon Kusi Ampofo, the Natural Resource Governance Coordinator of FoN.