Posted by: rumnet | January 31, 2012

CSOs trained on Environmental Impact Assessment

CSOs trained on Environmental Impact Assessment and Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative

(published in the December edition of the advocate) 

By Alhassan Imoru and Joseph Ziem

Participants at the Dodowa workshop

GHANA is undoubtedly blessed with abundance of natural resources, right from the southern part of the country to the Northern Sector. These resources, which range from timber, cocoa, rubber, gold, bauxite, manganese, iron ore, clinker, limestone, oil, gas, among others, abound in commercial quantities, of which some are already being extracted by multinationals.

Indeed, the most widely extracted among all the natural resources or minerals in the country, is gold. which has been mined in Ghana for the past 200 years. In fact, Ghana is Africa’s second largest gold producer, after South Africa, producing more than 80 tons each year. Minerals make up 37% of total exports, of which gold contributes over 90% to this figure.

Besides, Ghana is also a major producer of bauxite, manganese and diamonds. The country has an estimated 23 large-scale mining companies producing gold, diamonds, bauxite and manganese, and there are also over 300 registered small scale mining groups and 90 mine support service companies, according to Wikipedia.com. 

Oil, which is the latest natural resource to be discovered (2007) after several years of exploration, has attracted many multinationals to Ghana to acquire licenses for further exploration offshore and onshore.

However, the government and people of Ghana over the years have not benefitted so much from the various multinationals engaged in the extractive industry (mining) most especially gold which is the most mined.

For instance, Ghana benefits just 5% from the mining industry as its share of royalty even though it is the second largest producer of gold on the continent. In 2010, about 2 million ounces of gold was mined in Ghana. Gold at the time was going for about US$1,300 per ounce. That translates to a whopping US$2.6 billion.

However, the Government of Ghana received a pitiful 5% (US$130,000,000) of the total US$2.6 billion. This, according to CSOs, is as a result of bad agreements signed with many of the mining companies by past governments.

Thus, 40 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in the Natural Resources and Environment (NRE) sector in Ghana, who met at Dodowa from November 10 to 12, this year have been urged to intensify their advocacy efforts in the area of transparency which is an important yardstick that when seriously considered, could ensure equity in the extractive industry, but that is missing for now.

Mr. Godfred Mitti, Senior Programmes Coordinator of Care International, speaking at the training workshop organized by KASA/Care International, stated that Ghana, like other African countries, was not able to ensure transparency and also demand accountability from multinationals in the extractive sector of their economies.

He cited inaccurate production levels and figures often being churned out in the sector by companies and other actors simply because, the state is not able to establish the exact quantity of gold produced by these companies annually. Blaming this on the fact that no tax official sees the amount of gold that is produced to enable the state take the appropriate tax, he wondered whether any of the companies could do that in any European or developed country.

Mr. Mitti, therefore, called on CSOs to amplify their voices in advocacy issues in the extractive sector in order to compel government to insist on the right deal for Ghanaians saying: “The Zimbabwean government has refused to enter into any unfair deal with any multinational in the mining sector”, and stressed that Ghana and other African countries could also emulate such an example, since after all the gold and other minerals will not disappear when they are not extracted.

According to Yakubu Zakaria, Coordinator of KASA, one of the key strategies for KASA is to facilitate capacity building support to CSOs on key policy related issues in the NRE sector. “In 2009 KASA collaborated with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to train CSOs on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), SEA and climate change”, he cited. 

He noted that one key recommendation of the previous workshops, was the need to have more regular training opportunities for CSOs to broaden their understanding and engagement on EIA, climate change and other NRE governance issues, in collaboration with Government technical agencies. 

Thus, the Dodowa CSOs training workshop focused on two key cross-cutting aspects of NRE governance and sustainable development namely Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), and Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). which are very relevant for all CSO advocacies for equitable, transparency, accountable and sustainable NRE Governance and development in the nation’s extractive industry.

What is EIA and EITI mean

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) means the process for the orderly and systematic evaluation of a proposal including its alternatives and objectives and its effect on the environment including the mitigation and management of those effects.

The process extends from the initial concept of the proposal through implementation to completion, and where appropriate, decommissioning. 

The workshop aimed to equip CSOs with information, knowledge and tools that would enhance their ability to promote effective EIA compliance, and advocacy for transparent and accountable governance of Ghana’s natural resources, especially in the extractive sector.

The Extractive Industries Transparency initiative (EITI) supports improved governance in countries rich in natural resources.  It does this through the full publication and verification of company payments and government revenues from oil, gas, and mining.

Areas covered included the concepts of EIA, reasons/purpose of EIAs, legal requirements and regulatory framework for EIAs, the EIA process in Ghana, citizens/community participation in EIAs, challenges of EIAs and role of CSOs in EIAs.

 The workshop also focused on the overview of the natural resource/extractive industry value chain, what the EITI is all about, the global perspective on EITI, principles and criteria for EITI, rational/purpose, objectives of Ghana EITI, institutional arrangement for and status of implementation of the Ghana EITI (GhEITI), summary finding of GhEITI Audit reports 2004-2010 and role of CSOs in EITI. 

Participants were taken through the mandates and core functions/activities of EPA, Energy Commission, Forestry Commission, Minerals Commission and Water Resources Commission and Lands Commission.

The Vice Chairman of the National Steering Committee of EITI, Dr. Steve Manteaw, was not happy that even though mining of gold has been going on in Ghana for the past one hundred years, there is nothing to show.

“We have the metals in Africa and the natural resources, and yet there is no meaningful development in most African countries,” he lamented.

Dr. Manteaw urged CSOs to focus their advocacy on licensing and contracts of mining companies which are very important to production, adding; “CSOs should be demanding openness in the licensing and contracts of mining companies in the country.”

Speaking on the topic: “The EITI and pursuit of better development outcomes of resources extraction,” Dr. Manteaw disclosed that CSOs have been asking for the marketing contract of oil and nobody seems to know where the contract is.  “Ghanaians need to know the marketing cost of their natural resources”, he stressed.

According to him, there was no need to grant incentives to mining companies to come to Ghana, as the companies would have no option but to come since gold can be found in abundance in the country and a few other Africa countries.

On royalties, Dr. Manteaw said mineral revenue belongs to all Ghanaians and there was no justification for mining royalties to be paid to chiefs.

According to him, most chiefs cannot account for the mining royalties they receive and, if this persists, there is no way the people will appreciate be benefits of mining in their communities.

Dr. Manteuw stressed the need to do-emphasize corporate social responsibility carried out by the mining companies since they add such costs to their expenditure.

He said the mining companies should rather be taxed appropriately by the government to earn more revenue to be able to carry out its responsibility to provide social amenities such as roads, water and electricity to the communities.

KASA is a civil society support mechanism that aims to promote evidence-based research and advocacy in the NRE sector. Kasa seeks to provide capacity building support to, and platforms for Civil Society and Media organizations coordinated engagement and concerted advocacy for equitable access, accountability and transparency in Natural Resource and Environmental Governance (NREG) in Ghana with the purpose of reducing poverty.

The KASA initiative started in August 2008 with the support of the Royal Netherlands Embassy. KASA is currently being funded by CARE, DANIDA and ICCO.

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