Galamsey – the economic antithesis of Ghana’s development

In his opening speech at a bi-partisan Consultative Dialogue on Small Scale Mining in Accra on Wednesday, April 14 President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo called on participants to “discuss issues relating to illegal small-scale mining dispassionately devoid of partisan politics, narrow and parochial interests.” The Consultative Dialogue was initiated by the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources Hon. Abu Jinapor to stem galamsey, (gather them and sell) as illegal mining is called in Ghana. Galamsey is not new to indigenes of Ghana. What has changed is the mode of extraction.

The traditional small-scale method of prospecting and extracting gold with traditional tools has given way to heavy-earth moving equipment that destroys the environment including, but not limited to trees, river beds, wild life and everything in between.

Illegal mining questions the patriotism and resolve of Ghanaians.  Even though Ghanaians are quick to blame the illegality on the Chinese for their involvement in galamsey, they are quiet on the modalities that propel galamsey to thrive in their country and backyards. We are referring to unscrupulous traditional leaders, greedy politicians, powerful military and police personnel as well as crooked businesspeople complacit in the activities of the evil practice. In an address at an educational forum, the Chinese ambassador to Ghana asked Ghanaians bluntly how his countrymen have been able to enter Ghana and get involved in the illicit business. He rightly insinuated that no Chinese could enter a Ghanaian forest to prospect gold without the aid and blessing of (Ghanaian) powerbrokers or stakeholders. And thus far, no government official has debunked the assertion by the Chinese Ambassador as to how entry visas are granted.

Instead of a concerted effort to confront the most serious challenge in contemporary times that could make or break Ghana’s economic development, politics has waded into the narrative and crept its ugly tentacles into the fight while pristine and even sacred rivers, water bodies, forest reserves and farmlands are being destroyed with impunity.

Government has made several efforts to combat illegal mining in which foreigners compete with indigenous, small scale miners. One such effort to stymie galamsey, was the Akufo Addo administration’s establishment of an Inter-Ministerial Committee and a joint military and police task force.  But the Committee could not sustain its successes as, like Covid 19, galamsey has bounced back, this time with a vengeance.  Heavier earthmoving machines and equipment are now being employed and the devastation is worse than before.

The Ghanaian media pledged their support for the inter-ministerial and the joint military and police task force to rid the country of illegal mining. Their efforts, however, did not receive the cooperation they needed. Looks like some powerful and some unseen hands have been pulling and dictating the pendulum that swings the galamsey balance.

As the saying goes: it’s bent but not (yet) broken. The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources has resolved to put a stop on the destructive future of Ghana. As an initial step, he has placed a stop order on galamsey and small-scale mining.

Amandla expects the minister to make some policy changes regarding the powers of the Minerals Commission as well as stiffer punitive legal measures to deter persons and business entities foreign and local. We also agree with the minister’s promise to name and shame so-called prominent citizens who engage in galamsey without regard to their socio-political status and affiliation. Further, we recommend a special Court of Law to dispense swift and widely-covered proceedings to galamsey practitioners.  Non-Ghanaians found flouting the rules and regulations of gold prospecting and extracting should face the full force of the law and be deported after serving their sentences.

Ghana is at war with galamsey and government must think outside the box. The military and police task force and other authorities engaged in enforcement, backed by technology that can detect fake documentation and surveillance must be deployed into galamsey enclaves and weed out ALL operators and practitioners of the dreadful act, and it must be done fast.

In retrospect, Amandla hopes the Minister would continue to regard the media’s involvement as vital to the success of the efforts to stop illegal mining. The conversation must not stop in Accra. It must go round the country, and must include the vulnerable youth who are at the receiving end of exploitation. The people’s responses on the airwaves on the issue of stopping galamsey show immense support for the effort. It is the reason the conversation must not only remain in Accra but in the countryside and the areas in the country where galamsey has become the only source of sustenance for the youth.

Amandla joins the President, the minister and the people of Ghana to end galamsey to herald a new economic era.

Posted by on Apr 28 2021. Filed under Editorial. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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