Ghana: Akufo-Addo faces new pressures over illegal mining problem

By Jonas Nyabor
Posted on Monday, 10 October 2022 05:42

President of Ghana Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo arrives for his address to the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. Headquarters in New York City, U.S., September 21, 2022. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Having announced in 2017 that he was putting his presidency on the line in the fight against illegal mining, Ghana's President Nana Akufo-Addo has become the target for a public campaign against the menace that is threatening the country’s climate commitments, the important cocoa sector and the NPP’s election chances.

President Akufo-Addo held meetings last week with all traditional and local government leaders in a desperate move to find a solution to the illegal mining problem – known locally as galamsey – that is leaving a blot on his legacy.

A video documentary by Kumasi-based Luv FM showing mining activities in forest reserves, despite a government ban, has sparked an online protest against him for doing little about galamsey.

Complicit in the documentary was Akonta Mining Limited, a company that belongs to Bernard Antwi Boasiako, the Ashanti Regional chairman of Akufo-Addo’s party.

“Since I took office on 7 January 2017, nearly six years ago, I have made it a central feature of my presidency to lead in the effort to rid our country of this menace… It has not been easy and we have not got the immediate result that I was looking for,” said Akufo-Addo on 5 October.

Concrete government action needed

The #NoGalamsey campaign references incidents of forest reserve invasion, destruction of cocoa farms and pollution of water bodies to demand immediate and concrete government action.

The destruction of farms by illegal miners puts Ghana’s cocoa at risk of being locked out of the EU market as a result of a new bill restricting imports from deforestation-linked commodities.

Cocobod – the government controlled cocoa board – is already concerned that it may not achieve its production 850,000MT target for the 2022/2023 season because of the situation.

“Some of them actually use other coercive means of taking over the cocoa farms. Sometimes these illegal miners actually start digging the farm before the owners realise. We had to sponsor to get diseased farms to start afresh, but just when the farms started seeing some flowers, the illegal miners ha[d] gone to clear everything,” Cocobod’s communication director, Fiifi Boafo said on local TV Joy News.

Darly Bosu of Arocha Ghana, one of the lead campaigners, says: “Akufo-Addo hasn’t show[n] leadership in the fight against galamsey.”

“Government knows that the galamsey problem is being driven by politically connected people, but it has failed to take action and is just going round in circles,” he tells The Africa Report.

Theme in upcoming polls

The severity of the issue will make it an important theme in the 2024 elections, but Akufo-Addo believes the NPP is not faring well on that score.

He suggests that without visible changes ahead of the polls, the NPP may lose the elections.

“I believe that if the people of Ghana see a determined effort on our part, which yields results, our water bodies are clearing, our lands are being reclaimed, and our forest zones are being preserved, it will help them enable us break the eight,” he told his appointees at a meeting.

Understand Africa's tomorrow... today

We believe that Africa is poorly represented, and badly under-estimated. Beyond the vast opportunity manifest in African markets, we highlight people who make a difference; leaders turning the tide, youth driving change, and an indefatigable business community. That is what we believe will change the continent, and that is what we report on. With hard-hitting investigations, innovative analysis and deep dives into countries and sectors, The Africa Report delivers the insight you need.

View subscription options