He stated emphatically that it was not right that Africa, with its humongous mineral fortune that was sought after by the world, should remain inhabited by the poorest people on the globe.
The President stated this when he addressed the 2019 edition of the Investing in African Mining Indaba, the world’s largest mining investment conference, at Cape Town in South Africa on Tuesday.
He noted that though African countries had not leveraged on their best endeavours to negotiate fair deals with multinationals who mined their resources, it was time the continent benefitted adequately from the exploitation of its resources for sustainable growth and socio-economic development.
Africa, today, he stressed, had come of age, and should not have to give unusual tax and royalty incentives, and mining companies should not expect to make extraordinary profits on the continent.
The President told the gathering that the re-opening of the AngloGold Ashanti mine in Obuasi on January 22, 2019, was done under an agreement “that balanced more fairly the interests of the two sides, that is the Government of Ghana and AngloGold Ashanti.
“As I said at the ceremony, it is my hope and expectation that, this time around, under the new management of AngloGold Ashanti, the development of Obuasi will reflect the wealth its soil produces,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo further explained that minerals were a public resource, and the negotiations between countries and companies should be transparent, accessible and easily understandable by citizens.
Such agreements ought to be done in a language that does not need to be interpreted by experts.
“Communities should be able to examine mining contracts, find out how much revenue has been generated, and how, and on what it is being spent,” he said, adding that “long and bitter experience means both sides, African governments and mining companies, have to work hard to gain the trust of the people,” he said.
The President stressed that mining could accelerate the growth of Africa’s manufacturing sector, and be the champion of economic growth on the continent, just like Canada, Australia, the Americas and South Africa that have had spectacular examples of considerable wealth created amongst individuals and corporations as a result of significant discoveries in far-away lands.
This, he added, would not happen if Africa remained the place to come and dig minerals that were exported in their raw condition to be processed outside.
“We cannot, and should not continue to be merely exporters of raw materials to other countries. The value chain of mineral extraction has great potential for job creation, and can form an essential basis for the transformation of economies around the continent,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo told the conference that in addition to the exploitation of the traditional minerals of gold, diamond and manganese in Ghana, the country had taken the decision to exploit her considerable bauxite and iron ore deposits.
“We have established the Ghana Integrated Aluminium Development Corporation, a public corporation, to take charge of the development, with appropriate investors, of the full value chain of our bauxite resources in order to establish an integrated aluminium industry in Ghana.
“We are also determined to build an integrated iron and steel industry, out of our extensive iron ore and manganese deposits, to serve the needs of our country and region, and, to that end, Parliament, in its current session, will consider and, hopefully, approve the establishment of another public corporation, the Ghana Integrated Iron and Steel Development Corporation, which will, with appropriate investors, take charge of this undertaking.”
The President also spoke of plans to exploit Ghana’s considerable deposits of lithium, stressing that “we hope to establish, in all these new ventures, an equitable balance between our needs and the needs of the investor community.”
He said it was time “for the minerals sector to produce win-win situations for all stakeholders,” urging the conference to pay attention to “riches on top of the lands also in the form of a young, vibrant and dynamic population” who are anxious to work, and who, with the requisite skill, represent an extremely positive factor in the rapid development of the continent.
“Africa has made the world rich with our minerals, our gemstones adorn crowns and homes around the world, it is time to make Africa prosperous, and enable her people to attain a dignified standard of living. Join us in this exciting project for sustainable economic growth,” President Akufo-Addo said.
The four-day conference is being attended by about 35 mining ministers and the most influential persons in the African Mining sector, as well as investors from across the globe.