9th October 2015
Valorising West Africa’s Mineral & Petroleum Resources through Regional Cooperation.
The Representative of H.E. the President of the Republic of Ghana
H.E. the President of the ECOWAS Commission,
Kadre Desire Ouedraogo
H.E. the Commissioner for Trade and Industry, AU Commission,
Mrs. Fatima Haram Acyl
Excellencies and Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Hon. Colleague Ministers
Friends of the Mining Fraternity
Officials of Mining Departments and Agencies
Nananom, Nii Mei, Na Mei
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to start my address with an acknowledgement of the role played by ECOWAS Ministers responsible for Mineral Resources Development, who as far back as October 2010 – 5 years ago – requested the ECOWAS Commission to organize a regional mining and petroleum forum, as a key part of activities to promote and develop the mining and oil potentials of Member States. Your foresight is what has resulted in this Forum we are launching today.
To the ECOWAS Commission, which was actively involved in laying the foundation for the Forum to take place, my commendations and you, the other stakeholders, especially those of you from the private sector who accepted the challenge to sponsor this event, I am grateful for your active support.
This is the first Forum (of its type) and it’s being hosted by Ghana – the Gateway to West Africa. The significance of this, is that this ECOMOF initiative has come to stay. After this pioneering event, I trust that those who did not get involved would have learnt the lesson that it is a laudable forum aimed at developing efficient partnerships among all stakeholders to maximize the potential benefits of our extractive resources through regional cooperation, and would therefore partner ECOWAS and our respective host governments to sustain the initiative.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, the African continent is endowed with significant mineral resources. Indeed African economies are leading producers of a number of key mineral commodities, including gold, platinum, bauxite, iron ore, copper and many others. Resources such as these should therefore be the bedrock for propelling mineral producing countries into accelerated broad-based development, spanning the macro to the micro levels.
The West African sub-region is no less endowed with mining, oil and gas extractives as well as other natural resources.
The global economy has slowed down somewhat with a resultant dampening effect on commodity demand and prices and although the outlook for the cycle is still bearish, to be able to accommodate population growth projections, the long term trend for demand and commodity prices can only be bullish. For instance, according to UN estimates the global population will exceed 9 billion by 2050; the ultimate resurgence in infrastructure development, especially in the areas of transport, communication, energy, manufacturing, health, agriculture and housing to support the millions of new consumers in emerging economies is expected to revive growth in demand for metals and other strategic minerals, along with other resources, from the world economy.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, while most of the countries of the sub-region should therefore be able to pursue their sustainable development by building on their comparative advantage in extractive resources, this has largely not materialised.
It is in this context that we, as African Heads of States, approved the Africa Mining Vision (AMV) in 2009, which aims at ensuring transparent, equitable and optimal exploitation of mineral resources to underpin broad based sustainable growth and socio-economic development through the necessary linkages. The Vision seeks to shift mineral policies on the continent beyond the narrow focus on just extracting minerals and sharing the resulting revenues, to that which would lead to a structural transformation of Africa’s economies through an industrialisation strategy anchored on minerals and other natural resources.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, to achieve the broad based growth and development anticipated by the AMV, not only have countries been assigned their responsibilities, but the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) of the sub-regions also have their roles, whilst the continental leadership has its responsibilities as well. Within this framework, cooperative and collaborative partnerships are critical if we are to successfully optimise all possible synergies.
Distinguished Ladies and gentlemen, I therefore commend the organisers of the Forum for their choice of the theme for this forum which is: “Valorising West Africa’s Mineral & Petroleum Resources through Regional Cooperation”; I trust the programming and exhibition set-up and other activities planned will promote interaction and lesson-learning, over the three days of the Forum, leading to enhanced partnerships across ECOWAS among all stakeholders.
I believe that the interplay of the technical topics and the country presentations from the sub-region have been balanced to achieve this; and therefore urge all participants to avail themselves of the complete experience offered.
At this juncture, I would also like to highlight a few areas which in my view should be considered during the Forum:
The Mining Sector
I know that each of the other countries in the sub-region with mineral resources has started or is pursuing one imitative or the other to enhance the holistic contribution of the mining sector to its economy, as anticipated by the AMV. In this respect, Ghana is working very closely with the African Mineral Development Centre (AMDC) to indigenize the AMV, through a Country Mining Vision (CMV).
Also, in this respect West Africa, through its Regional Economic Communities (RECs) – ECOWAS -, has already made efforts that have crystallised into policy and guidelines in the minerals and mining sector, namely:
• ECOWAS Directive on the Harmonisation of Guiding Principles and Policies in the Mining Sector, which was adopted by the Council of Ministers in 2009;
• ECOWAS Mineral Development Policy, gazetted in 2012 by ECOWAS.
The Oil and Gas Sector
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, the oil and gas sector ought not to lag behind. It is my expectation that the plethora of policies and laws governing the oil and gas sector worldwide would afford countries in the sub-region, which are favourably endowed, the opportunity to learn from history in order to leapfrog in the area of sustainable management of our petroleum resources. The various projects being undertaken in the oil and gas sector should not only boost the sector’s production, but also enhance its contribution to the sustainable growth and development of our respective countries and the sub-region as a whole.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, countries dependent on minerals and hydrocarbons in the ECOWAS sub-region cannot leverage their mineral and petroleum potential to maximize their contribution to sustainable development without adopting the key elements of good governance, including transparency, stakeholder involvement and accountability among others.
Linkages and Local Content
The extractive sector has the potential to markedly improve its sustainable contribution if properly managed within a framework by which it is more fully integrated with the rest of the economy. It is therefore not surprising that a Local Content agenda has been and continues to be prosecuted vigorously by almost all natural resource-endowed countries, though with varying country-specific considerations and types of interventions, to optimize local ownership and employment as well as broaden and improve local participation in the benefits that accrue from the development of our extractive resources.
Despite the differences in emphasis, the common objectives of the strategy in both extractive sectors, have been as follows:
• to deepen backward linkages with other sectors of the economy (increasing the amount of local goods and services that extractive companies purchase and through transfer of technology);
• to create or enhance benefits in the form of job opportunities and greater citizen participation in the sector (through local ownership and control); and possibly,
• to expand forward links, through processing of industry output to some extent, before exporting.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I understand that these issues will be considered at the Forum. In the context of the theme of the Forum, one of the key issues that I also expect to be discussed is, “how sovereign nations in West Africa can reconcile their local content policies in the mining and petroleum sectors and thereby pursue meaningful regional cooperation.”
Aligning Extractive Sector Visions with Global Sustainable Development Goals
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, December 2015 marks the transition from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are being finalised. The relevant SDGs are intended to ensure the sustainable exploitation and application of our natural resources.
Ladies and gentlemen, I trust these would be kept in view throughout the deliberations of the Forum.
Efforts at Managing the Negative Environmental Impacts of Extractives
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, the Government of Ghana is fully aware that poor mining and processing practices can cause excessive environmental degradation and pollution. The framework of legislation and regulatory structures should therefore aim at curtailing any such potential negative impacts, by protecting sensitive areas while demanding reclamation and rehabilitation of other impacted areas where mining activities are permitted.
Some countries have similar, more stringent or in some cases almost no standards.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, at the governmental level, I trust that the subject of the evolving global socio-environmental standards will engage the attention of participants, in our bid to answer the question of how to reconcile these standards across the sub-region to protect posterity and thereby promote sustainable development even as we actively develop our extractives.
On their part, extractive sector companies will agree with me that compliance with policies, laws, regulations and guidelines governing their operations are not negotiable. Thus, companies will be expected to fully comply with these regulations to assist Government in creating a more sustainable operating environment.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, in concluding, it is worth noting that mineral and petroleum resources have the capacity to contribute to sustainable development when properly managed. Therefore, as they establish the necessary legal and regulatory environment to attract investment (both local and foreign) for creating and equitably sharing the resulting benefits, it is important that government’s have a long term objective, including, among others, the development of skills and broad human resource capacity, technology transfer and growth of other industries necessary to catalyse broad-based growth and development on a sustainable basis, which goes beyond the mining activities as the mining activities will invariably end with the depletion of the extractive resource.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I wish you fruitful deliberations and interaction over the next three days.
Finally, whether you are visiting Ghana for the first time or not, I trust that you will take time off your busy schedule to take advantage of the proverbial Ghanaian hospitality and cuisine, before you depart our shores.
Thank you very much.