Government is in the process of identifying alternative sources of livelihood for persons involved in illegal mining activities across the country, popularly referred to as ‘galamsey’, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has assured.
To make this a reality, the President disclosed, a cabinet committee headed by the Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Prof. Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, has been established to implement, to the letter, government’s strategy for combating ‘galamsey’.
According to him, his travels across the country during the last electioneering campaign formed his resolve to tackle the galamsey problem with the utmost urgency.
“One of the advantages of campaigning is that you get to see Ghana. It is the exposure I had in this last campaign of what was actually going on in the field that hardened my decision, God-willing if I was to win the election, to make the fight against ‘galamsey’ one of my priorities”.
Addressing the Ghanaian community resident in Conakry, on Thursday, May 18, during the second day of his three-day visit to Guinea, President Akufo-Addo stated that with the christening of Ghana’s first modern city as Elmina, to wit ‘The Mine’ by the Portuguese, President Akufo-Addo stated means that as far back as the 15th century, there was the recognition that mining was important for the country’s economy.
“But what we cannot have is for mining to compromise our future environment. 60 percent, we are told, of the water bodies in Ghana have been affected by illegal mining activities. That is unacceptable. We are not out to attack Chinese or Canadians or whoever. We are saying that we want people to respect the laws of our country and make sure that our environment does not suffer from mining, and that is what we are going to do,” he added.
He therefore shared some of the ventures that could lead to the creation of jobs that will employ those involved in galamsey.
Integrated Aluminum Industry
Describing aluminum as “the metal of the future”, President noted that Ghana’s experience with the Volta Aluminum Company (VALCO), which saw Kaiser, operators of the smelter, import bauxite from Jamaica, means that “we need an integrated aluminium industry in Ghana – right from the mining of the bauxite to alumina, and the refining of alumina into aluminium.”
It was his hope that by the end of this next sitting of Parliament, a bill establishing an Aluminum Development Authority – the vehicle principally responsible for putting together the whole of the infrastructure that is required for the exploitation of the country’s bauxite resources at Nyinahin and Kyebi – will be passed.
“Aluminium is the metal of the future, and we have substantial quantities of the raw material in our country. We need a strategy that will ensure value-addition, and not just exporting it in its raw form. There is no future in the export of our raw materials. But, that, we must add value inside our country, create jobs, and at the end of the process we will have aluminium,” he added.
It is for this reason, President Akufo-Addo stated, that former President Kufuor bought VALCO, “so that it will be part of this process for an integrated aluminium industry in Ghana. Very soon the plans will be out.”
Promises will be fulfilled
President Akufo-Addo, just as he did in Senegal, reiterated the commitment of his government towards fulfilling the promises he made to Ghanaians in the run-up to the December 2016 elections.
The Free Senior High School Policy, he said, is on its way to being fulfilled, indicating that his government will fund the cost of public Senior High Schools for all those who qualify for entry from the 2017/2018 academic year onwards.
Touching on the restoration of the National Health Insurance Scheme, President Akufo-Addo noted that his government has found it necessary to find the money to stave the scheme off collapse, and it was for that reason that he chose Dr. Agyeman Manu, an eminent accountant, to be in charge of the Health Ministry, and supervise the revival of the NHIS.
On the agricultural sector, the President told the gathering that the programme for “Planting for Food and Jobs” launched in Goaso a month ago is the answer to the twin-problem of the migration of youth to city centres in search of non-existent jobs, as well as an end to the disgraceful spectacle of Ghana importing food stuffs from neighbouring countries.
The programme, he noted, has so far employed 1,200 extension officers, and an additional 2,000 more officers will be employed in 2018. Additionally, the programme, he stated will in its first year target some 200,000 farmers.