Brahabebome(W/R), Dec.1, GNA - The management of Gold Fields Ghana Limited (GFGL) a mining company on Wednesday launched a 50 billion cedis five-year development programme at Brahabebome near Tarkwa in the Western Region.
The Sustainable Community Empowerment and Economic Development (SEED) would be a sustainable and integrated community development programme that would focus on economic growth, wealth creation, improving standard of living, empowerment through education, capacity building and infrastructure development. Other components of the programme are, processing and adding value as well as marketing of farm produce, award of scholarships to needy but brilliant students, provision of potable water and improved sanitation, training of health workers, provision of health infrastructure and assistance to small scale miners.
The programme is expected to improve the living standards of about 30,000 poor and vulnerable people in 16 communities within the company's concession at Tarkwa and Damang by 2020. The communities include Samahuu, Abekoase, New Atuabo, Akoon, Huni-valley, Bompieso and Koduakrom.
It would be funded through the Gold Fields Ghana Foundation with annual contribution of over 100 billion cedis, depending on the company's production and prices of gold on the world market. The company has already earmarked about 13.5 billion cedis under the programme for 2005 to 2006.
Mr. Joseph Boahen Aidoo, Western Regional Minister, launching the programme, commended the company for providing alternative means of livelihood to the people within its concession through sustainable agriculture, livestock production, agro-processing and training of health personnel.
He said the company had in addition, provided school buildings, health centres, road and electricity to some of the communities. At the national level, Mr. Aidoo said, the company sponsored the national team Black Stars for the past three years and had now qualified to participate in the 2006 World Cup tournament in Germany. He appealed to the beneficiary communities to reciprocate the company's gesture by educating their people especially the youth to desist from unwarranted agitations adding; "The Company will be able to offer more assistance to the communities when it is allowed to operate in a peaceful environment."
Mr. Aidoo advised the people within the communities to take advantage of the programme to equip themselves for the job market. He said the programme was a laudable intervention that would promote the Government's poverty alleviation programme therefore, District assemblies, Traditional rulers, Financial institutions, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and other stakeholders should cooperate with the company to ensure that objectives of the programme would be achieved.
Mr. Brendan Walker, Managing Director of GFGL said the mining industry in Ghana was increasingly concerned with the issue of sustainable social and economic development.
He said as responsible cooperate entities, mining companies should move from "the ad-hoc fire fighting approach of community development" which focused more on structures and buildings to a comprehensive integrated sustainable development agenda that would focus on the social, economic, environmental and political development of the people. Mr. Walker said the programme had put in place an effective monitoring and evaluation systems to ensure its successful implementation.
He was optimistic that the programme would economically and socially empowered the communities and in addition, serve as a model for other mining companies to emulate.
Osagyefo Kwamina Enimil VI, Paramount Chief of Wassa Fiase Traditional Area, commended the company for the initiative, adding "some mining companies only aim at making profit and that is not good for partnership in development."
He appealed to chiefs within the communities to educate their people especially the youth to take advantage of the programme to improve on their standards of living.