Accra, July 26, GNA - Professor Kasim Kasanga, Minister of Environment and Science, on Monday said Ghana regarded environmental impact assessment (EIA) programmes as one of the pathways to sustainable development and investments in Africa.
He said any effort and support aimed at establishing and consolidating the EIA systems should be seen as an invaluable contribution to the country's development.
The Minister was speaking at the opening of a three-day meeting on EIA capacity building and networking in Africa with participants drawn from Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands.
The meeting is being organised by the Ministry of Environment and Science in collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Capacity Development and Linkages for Environmental Impact Assessment in Africa (CLEIAA) Initiative
It is aimed at pushing forward the agenda of developing strategies for environmental assessment and management capacity in Africa. Prof. Kasanga said the meeting was timely in view of the urgent need to accelerate efforts at achieving sustainable and environmental soundness in development and investment initiatives on the Continent. He, however, noted that the pace of EIA development appeared to be slow in view of the many challenges and constraints facing many countries on the Continent.
"Since 1995 there have been frantic efforts by African Environmental Ministers and the donor community to overcome these challenges...this culminated in the CLEIAA initiative in May 2000 with the mission to promote EIA as a tool for sustainable development in Africa," he said.
Mr Abdulrahman Issa, Head of the Tanzania Country Office of the World Conservation Union and Co-ordinator of CLEIAA, said it was expected that by 2010, all African countries would have an EIA system in place.
He said CLEIAA, as a coordinating body, would help these countries with their EIA programmes.
Mr Jonathan Allotey, Executive Director of the EPA, spoke about the growing demand for EIA in Ghana by many Ministries, Departments and Agencies as well as Private Sector Organisations. He said as many as 700 applications were received yearly and that EPA had decentralised its operations to the regions to facilitate the processing of applications.