March 22, 2017
Stopping illegal mining, otherwise known as ‘galamsey,’ will not be possible unless there is a conscious effort to ensure inclusive growth, which is why job-creation and education are key on government’s agenda, Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, has said.
Natural resources, the Vice President said, play a central role in promoting sustainable socio-economic development, and so it is important that government policies are influenced by the management of renewable and nonrenewable natural resources to ensure environmental sustainability as well as to meet economic and social goals.
Speaking at natural capital accounting forum in Accra, organised by Green Growth Institute, a Civil Society Organisation, Dr. Bawumia said to promote sustainability, there is the need, as a country, to commit to promoting and ensuring the efficient and judicious use of these natural resources.
“The challenge to ensure sustainability in our natural resource environment sectors also presents an opportunity to rewrite our story, the story of a great African nation that will never relent on its quest to right the wrongs that have already been on the environment and natural resource sectors.
“So, natural resources don’t have to be a curse, they present a major opportunity. We have to address the issue of sustainability and inclusive economic growth. If you grow as an economy and you have a large section of your population excluded from that growth process, then you are enhancing poverty and in that particular situation of joblessness for a lot of your youth, you are essentially leaving them desperate to fend for themselves and that search for income from jobless youth will lead them into activities that degrade the environment and our natural resources,” Dr. Bawumia said.
He said if a country has natural resources and is not investing the revenues to benefit its people, it will only create trouble for the country.
“That’s why if you look at the recently passed budget by the Minister of Finance, you will see elements of this approach to inclusive growth in the country and actually trying to get the country to grow for jobs to be created. Without that, you are going to have trouble sustaining your environment.
This is why we are creating a situation where people will not drop out of school. Why don’t we use this money to invest in education to ensure inclusive growth in the country?”
The free secondary education policy, one-district one-factory, the Zongo Development Fund and other ambitious policies outlined by the government will ensure that the youth are given the opportunity to work so they will not indulge in the illegal mining activities, with the primary aim of achieving widespread growth by putting value to many of the country’s natural resources and creating jobs for the youth.
“Galamsey is something that we are all witnesses to; it is very disturbing if you go across the country and look at what is happening to our water bodies. They are being damaged. Water treatment plants in some areas have been shut down because of pollutants as a result of the impact of galamsey. This is not something that, as a country, we should take lightly. The water shortages that we are seeing across the country is very much linked to these activities.
“It will have to take a political will to deal with this. So, in the next few weeks you will see some major policies in dealing with the issue of galamsey in this country.
There is a political will to deal with the matter, even though you will have interest groups behind these activities. But we as a country will have to take the bull by the horn in dealing with these activities to protect the environment and the lives of our people,” the Vice President said
Quoting what the President, Nana Addo Dankwa, said in his Independence Day address, Dr. Bawumia said Ghana is a resource rich country and that there are no reasons for it to be poor.