President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo yesterday launched the National Alternative Employment and Livelihood Programme, a programme designed to help alleviate the hardships of those affected by government’s efforts to sanitise the mining industry.
The Programme, themed “Creating Alternative jobs to illegal Mining for Sustainable National Development”, is to ensure that illegal miners who have been displaced by the activities of Operation Halt II enjoy the basic necessities of life, and to prevent them from going back to the illegal mining activities.
Speaking at the auditorium of the George Grant University of Mines and Technology, Tarkwa, President Akufo-Addo reiterated that his government is not against small-scale mining. “My Government is not against small-scale mining. On the contrary, the government is in full support of responsible small-scale mining activities, as it provides an avenue for Ghanaians to participate in the mining industry,” he stressed.
He said what his government is against is the illegal way of going about mining activities. “A comprehensive approach to tackling this canker, which demonstrates also our commitment to social solidarity and harmony, requires that, while working with the security agencies for the protection and proper utilisation of our natural resources, we fashion alternative means of livelihood for those affected by the crackdown,” he said.
To this end, the President indicated that his government had decided to diversify sources of livelihood in mining communities to reduce the impact of the depletion of the resources on the lives of persons in mining communities.
The National Alternative Employment and Livelihood Programme (NAELP), he said, would mitigate the unavoidable hardships, which government’s efforts to sanitize the small-scale mining sector had created, particularly in the five regions that Operation Halt carried out its operations.
“It is intended to provide good economic livelihood options to illegal mining and its associated activities, and to enable those adversely impacted the opportunity to work and support themselves and their families. The Programme will also focus on reversing the negative impact of illegal mining on the environment through the National Land Reclamation and Reafforestation component of the Programme,” President Akufo-Addo said.
He added: “Given that most of our degraded lands are due to illegal mining activities, it is very fitting that any programme targeting illegal mining should include a reclamation portion. This component of the Programme will restore degraded lands into economically viable lands, creating job opportunities for the youth, landowners and communities at large.”
Community mining scheme
In keeping with the government’s commitment to promoting responsible, viable and sustainable small-scale mining, he revealed that the Programme would also include a community mining scheme, which will be the model for small-scale mining activities in the country.
Commissioning the Akoon Community Mining Scheme, President Akufo-Addo stated: “Community mining schemes will be supported by the Mine Support Services, and, all together, are expected to create some two hundred and twenty thousand (220,000) direct and indirect jobs”.
He reiterated that his government would not condone any illegal activities in the mining sector, as the strengthened monitoring and enforcement regime put in place, under the auspices of the enhanced Mine Inspectorate Division of the Minerals Commission and the Regional Security Councils, will ensure that all small-scale mining activities are environmentally compliant.
He urged Regional Coordinating Councils and Municipal and District Assemblies in areas where this Programme will be implemented to give their full support for its implementation.
“The nation is grateful to the George Grant University of Mines and Technology for its collaboration and cooperation to make this Programme successful, by putting its teaching resources at the disposal of those who are involved in the Programme to enhance their capacity and expertise, and improve their productivity. University, let me say ayekoo, well done,” he said.
Towards the sustainable funding of this scheme, President Akufo-Addo told the gathering: “At my request, the Ministry of Finance has committed to make adequate budgetary allocation in the upcoming 2022 Budget of Government to fund this very important policy”.
Samuel Abu Jinapor, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, stated that community mining had become the main fulcrum around which his outfit seeks to organize responsible small-scale mining.
He disclosed that, so far, five community mining schemes with 20 concessions had been launched.
The five schemes, he said, have the capacity to employ some 26,300 people in direct and indirect jobs.
The Minister also disclosed that his Ministry is expecting to launch a total of 18 Schemes with 100 concessions by the end of the year.
He said the Ministry is committed to delivering 100 well regulated, responsible, environmentally sound community mining schemes across the country before the end of 2022.