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The Western Region of Ghana has been blessed with a lot of natural resources but has also been cursed with the challenges that come along with exploiting these natural resources, Dr Kweku Afriyie, the regional minister-designate, has said.
According to him, the exploitation of gold and other extractive mineral resources in the region has resulted in the destruction of water bodies and the environment.
Speaking during his vetting by the Appointments Committee of parliament on Tuesday February 14, Dr Afriyie said: “The Western Region, we have been blessed and we have been cursed. The Western Region, we have so much to give to this country – currently if you take the income on this country we contribute so much. If you take cocoa, we are producing some 60 per cent, sometimes even 65 per cent of Ghana’s cocoa. Almost all the forex exchange in this country are left in the Western Region.
“We produce manganese – [we are] the only [part] of this country producing manganese. The bauxite being exploited in this country is at Awaso – and I am mindful that there is bauxite in the Atiwa forest [in the Eastern Region]. We also have virtually 100 per cent of Ghana’s rubber estates and about 40 per cent or more of the oil palm estates in this country and we have overtaken Ashanti Region as the leading gold producer in Ghana now. We have huge reserves of every mineral.
“But in spite of that, we suffer some of the worst burdens of deprivation in this country. If you take the road sector, our roads are the worst in this country. Unfortunately we have the heaviest rainfall in this country and that has always been used as an excuse not to give us some of the good roads that everybody wants in this country.
“Because of the mining sector, some of the worst incidences of HIV/AIDS were in the mining areas, the prevalence rate was very high. Again, environmental degradation, water pollution, and so on are confronting the region.”
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