Ghana's Extractive Industries: Follow De Beers' Botswana Partnership Model

Sun, 20 Jan 2013 Source: Thompson, Kofi

By Kofi Thompson

Just as some of us predicted when we persistently called for debt write-off in the 90's, Ghana's economy began to expand when debt relief came with the Highly Indebted Poor Country initiative.

Ghana is lauded for its stability and for being a peaceful and democratic nation - and an example to the rest of sub-Saharan Africa.

However, in the long-term, democracy cannot survive in Ghana, if ordinary people continue to face economic hardship and grow poorer.

There is general consensus amongst most educated Ghanaians that Ghana's agreements with extractive industry companies, are amongst some of the worst in the world - if not the worst.

It is also a fact that it is in the long-term interest of the overseas shareholders of gold mining companies, as well as those of the oil and gas entities operating here, that Ghanaian democracy survives and thrives.

If they are desirous of ensuring that, let them voluntarily adopt De Beers' partnership model with Botswana immediately - so that the relationship with Ghana is a win-win one: not the present one-sided one.

Why, for instance, do the gold mining companies and the oil companies not invest in refining capacity here?

Should Ghana not become a leading producer and exporter of petroleum products, in Africa?

Would that not contribute to her prosperity - and help governments of the day continuously raise living standards in Ghana and lift more people out of poverty, going forward?

And if Ghana became a leading producer of gold coins and bars, as well as a major centre for the sale of same, would that also not contribute to the nation's prosperity?

If Ghana's extractive industries followed the example of De Beers in Botswana, and entered into similar 50-50 production agreements, what catastrophe could possibly befall those companies and their overseas shareholders?

Would it not rather win them plaudits globally, as ethical companies contributing positively to a poor developing nation's economic transformation?

It is said that a friend in need is a friend indeed. Let Ghana's extractive industries offer a hand of genuine friendship to Ghana and its people, when they need it most. Now.

Let them adopt De Beers' Botswana partnership model now - when Ghana needs more ethical investment and additional revenue to transform its economy for the benefit of ordinary Ghanaians. A word to the wise...

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Email: peakofi.thompson@gmail.com

Columnist: Thompson, Kofi