GHANA AT SOMETHING-SOMETHING: PART 3

    
 As a young blood entering the tertiary institution and working on my first degree, I was really awed by the seemingly young lecturers who already carried the title of “Dr.”. First off, becoming a lecturer is no small feat and to do so at a young age means these people could be described as geniuses. Away from that, one thing which piqued my interest was some of the hostels on campus, the GUSSS (Ghana University Staff Superannuation Scheme) hostels. A wonderful idea, this scheme pulls its capital from the pension fund of the senior members of staff and I have seen a lot of well-planned residential facilities through this scheme. I brought this up because I had this silly thought that if a chunk of that money was put in a fund geared towards helping both students and lecturers complete their projects from the paper stage to the ground, it would be wonderful, right?  Academia complains of lack of funds to finance brilliant projects which end up gathering dust in the archive rooms. Hey, I’m not saying residential facilities are not important. But just think……
     Now I want to jump on a very familiar topic concerning one of the best people to grace our world and then Ghana’s resources. If you had the chance to watch movies in which a “yellow-skinned” guy called Bruce Lee with his wonderful screams (you should see me trying to imitate him) used his wonderful martial art skills to decimate his foes, then “your own good”. When the name “China” is mentioned what quickly comes to mind may be a slit-eyed people with a very nasal tongue.  Looking at the history of the Chinese and where they are today as having one of the strongest economies, theirs is a story of strong will and perseverance. In recent years Africa has witnessed a flood of Chinese investment in every sector and Ghana is no different. Now the question of whether or not these investments are to our benefit is something we could spend an eternity answering…or a moment. Recently a lot of our construction (both road and building) have been done by the Chinese. When one visits these sites, one would see the foreigner in the heat along with his workers supervising every bit of the work. On the other hand, have you ever visited such a site where you’d notice one SUV (usually a Tundra) packed under the shade somewhere with an obese or pot-bellied man holding a canned drink in one hand and shouting orders at the workers with the other hand? I don’t have to tell you who the guy in the second scenario is. A lot of Ghanaians complain about the quality of Chinese products from their cars right down to toothpicks. But we still use everything china-made, clothing, furniture, stationery, vehicle, toiletries, stationery, and food, electrical and electronic gadgets. The most interesting of course is the “china fone” (chan-chan). There’s also a lot of talk on the Chinese presence in our mining sector.
   
 Galamsey operators are crying out that the Chinese are taking over their livelihood. Interestingly all the equipment used by our illegal miners are purchased at very cheap prices from their fiercest competitor  – the Chinese. Many complain about the negative effects of Chinese nationals engaging in “illegal” mining across the country. One thing of note about a Chinese man is that he’d never enter your abode without your explicit permission. From Anas’ exposé a while back, it shows that some of the Chinese were made to believe the traditional rulers held all authority over the lands so all they did was to visit these rulers bearing a few gifts and then they were given the go-ahead. The chiefs invited them in “wholeheartedly” and it turns out the local police were in on it too after they receive their “look away” fees. At this point I’d like us to take another trip, this time to the realm of “what should have happened but didn’t”. In this realm, the nation’s wealth is efficiently exploited and properly utilized for the benefit of all through the implementation of some of the following steps:
  1. Mining firms and companies here have 70% of their workers Ghanaians. They are also given seven years to ensure that at least 50% of that number are indigenes of where the resource is being exploited. Such a step ensures the citizens reap the greatest possible benefits especially the denizens. The children and youth in those communities are educated and trained to work in that field thereby erasing any possible indignation from the locals as we usually witness in our present circumstances. The society advances quickly since most of the workers are locals and have a better appreciation for the improvement of their homes and society. This measure reduces the tendency to engage in Galamsey and illegal activities.
  2. A special task force such as the current Presidential Taskforce on Galamsey are well trained and resourced to ensure such sites are well protected and managed. This taskforce also ensures that all activities of these companies do not destroy the environment outside of their work area.
  3. 50% of materials and equipment needed are bought or manufactured in the country. This creates more business for local industry and helps build capacity.
  4. Capital and revenue of such companies are handled by local financial institutions. This increases the foreign exchange rate of the country raises and helps strengthen the value of the local currency.
  5. Local entrepreneurs are encouraged to team up with small scale miners and other conglomerates to venture into mineral exploitation by lowering taxes levied against them, enabling easier access to loan facilities and lowering the interest on such loans.
  6. Any discovered site of resource is tightly controlled by the local government and the special task force until due process has been followed for exploitation to be carried out.
  7. At least 3% of all annual revenue of all mining companies goes into funding the activities of the University of Mines And Technology (UMAT). This is the only institution with a Faculty of Mineral Resources Technology in the West Africa sub-region for training high-level personnel thus its student are from all over the continent.
Back to reality…….

I follow issues pertaining to environmental degradation. After seeing all those worrying images in the papers and on TV I decided to see things with my own eyes (gaani gaani). At Twifo-Praso I visited the river Pra and I was shocked, the images I saw earlier didn’t do justice to the extent of destruction caused. After a talk with some of the families who lived close by I found out they used to be a fishing community but now they couldn’t even get a single fish (dead or alive) from the river so their children had also ventured into Galamsey to try and strike gold( crude oil too it would seem). The Pra River is a major source of water for the people of the Ashanti, Eastern and Western regions. The Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) is now forced to use higher concentrations of water treatment chemicals which negatively impact on our health. Hmm…..

You and I usually take for granted such seemingly slow events because it feels far from home. But its effects have more far reaching consequences than we’d care to acknowledge. All resources i.e. natural, capital and human have equal importance if we are to live happy and fulfilled lives in this country, Ghana. As her citizens we have the duty to protect what she gives us and improve upon our own living standards. We can start by investing in our own resources with whatever little we think we have, no illusory figure called “Government” (nor any foreigner) cain help us if we only sit back and look on. It’s always easier said than done though, that I know but we can begin yesterday, not today, not tomorrow. Let’s all be citizen Ghana, after all we’re all she’s got… the hope.
Part 4…..loading….

Notes:
  • Photo credits: Anti-galamsey hotline: 0507000400 (sponsored by the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources in partnership with the Presidential Taskforce on Galamsey, Environmental Protection Agency and other stakeholders), modernghananews.com, myjoyonline.com .
  • Umat.edu.gh & Graphic.com.gh




Written By : Wogbe-Dogbe Robert Dzidedi Kwaku ( Bsc Chemistry Student, KNUST)

   

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