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31.10.2008 Business & Finance

'Empower Small-Scale Miners'

By Daily Guide

Dr. Yao Graham, Coordinator of Third World Network (TWN) says Ghana and Africa should look beyond Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) in mining and rather empower local firms to accrue more benefits .

According to the coordinator, whose organisation is involved in the current review of the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006, Act 703, policy decision should be tilted to encourage small-scale artisanal participation in mining so as to help the nation benefit immensely from the minerals since a huge chunk of the revenue will stay in Ghana.

Dr. Yao Graham disclosed this yesterday at a press conference on the upcoming International Meeting on Mining, expected to take place from November 5-7 2008.  

The three-day meeting aimed at exploring policy options that will go beyond the familiar debate of attracting FDI into Africa's mining sector, will bring together activists, researchers, academics, members of parliament, experts from the UN System and government officials across Ghana, Zambia, South Africa, Guinea, Nigeria, and Botswana among others. Non-African countries such as Canada and the United Kingdom will also be present.

Issues to be discussed include the general policy framework, policy making and impact of current mining operations on Africa's development.

Dr. Graham also noted that value addition to the minerals should be encouraged, explaining that it will boost earnings accrued from the sector.

“Terms of contract between African nations and foreign mining firms are too much in favor of the latter, hence the need to change some rules in our benefits.”

A recent report by accounting professionals, PriceWaterHouse Coopers revealed that foreign mining firms made gains of over 1000 percent last year. This, Dr. Graham asserted, should push Africa nations to renegotiate terms with foreign companies to rake in more gains from the sector.

Similarly, the sector's contribution to government revenue has been minimal as it contributed only 6.44 percent to the nation's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) even though Ghana has abundant mineral resources all over the country.  

In a bid to inject some transparency and plug loopholes that allow plundering of Africa's natural resources in the extractive sector, such voluntary initiatives and campaigns as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (ETI) were proposed.

Dr. Graham said the meeting will delve into the effectiveness of these initiatives.

Lindlyn Tamufor, Programme Officer, TWN on his part said the fiscal policies governing mining are weak and thus it needs immediate attention if African nations are to benefit immensely from mining.

The International Meeting on Mining will also provide a platform to look at institutional arrangements for the delivery of mining policies in Africa. In this regard state actors like the Minerals Commission and the Internal Revenue Service will also provide some insight into effective and efficient mineral resource mobilization.

Emerging reforms in Africa's mining sector will also be looked at.

By Charles Nixon Yeboah