Saturday, 29 August 2009


An illegal surface gold mining operation being carried out without a valid Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) permit, in the Akim Abuakwa Juaso section of the foothills of the Atiwa Range upland evergreen rain forest, encapsulates perfectly, the complete impunity with which powerful and politically well-connected individuals in Ghana, are destroying Ghana’s natural heritage, in defiance of hapless officialdom. Global climate change is impoverishing billions across the developing world – and those at the sharp end in rural Ghana are already seeing its negative effects on their lives. It is thus hard to fathom why those behind the illegal surface gold mining operation being carried out in Akim Abuakwa Juaso, Sola Mining, which was halted by officials of the mining department of the EPA (who travelled all the way to the area from Accra, solely for that purpose not too long ago), never actually ever ceased their illegal activities, although their activities have been brought to the notice of all the relevant authorities (including even government ministers). Incidentally, dear reader, no doubt the gold that is mined illegally in the area will contribute to Ghana's GDP - and clueless politicians will harp on endlessly about our country's impressive GDP growth rate figures (without ever examining what actually constitutes that growth): when the reality on the ground is that the illegal surface gold mining is only worsening the quality of life of the inhabitants of the area. Since the illegal gold miners have also bought a vast swathe of farmland from the area's cocoa farmers, the real cost to society of the perfidy of the illegal surface gold miners, is that those farmers will be impoverished yet further - when the paltry sums they sold their cocoa farms for, and which they obviously think are such huge fortunes, finally run out.

Kibi Goldfields, which is said to be insolvent at the moment (and was also once rumoured – although one cannot obviously verify that because of banks’ commitment to client confidentiality – to be involved in a scandal at the Gulf House branch of the ADB, if my failing memory serves me right, i.e.: in which vast sums were said to have been transferred to Malaysia years ago, under questionable circumstances, for more or less obsolete equipment), does have a concession in the area. When I met with some of the wealthy and influential people behind Sola Mining's illegal operation, they mentioned Kibi Goldfields as their associates – giving one the impression that they were working together with Kibi Goldfields, somehow: thus lending their illegal operation an air of respectability, as it were. The question is: If such an operation can be carried out with impunity in such an important and internationally-recognised biodiversity hotspot (surveyed incidentally by Conservation International some years ago, in a “rapid assessment” of the area’s unique fauna and flora), precisely what will those officials from Ghana, who will attend the December 2009 Copenhagen global climate change conference, tell their colleagues from the developed world who provide them with funds (in the hope that their work will protect grassroots people in rural Ghana from the worst effects of global climate change), when they question them about the current state of the Atiwa Range uplands evergreen rain forest?

In view of the apathy of much of officialdom (where issues to do with the natural environment are concerned), perhaps it might very well make sense for governments in the developed world that plan to provide money for African nations to fight global climate change, to give those funds to non-governmental organizations engaged in conservation work in nations such as Ghana. The EPA did not hesitate to act when they were informed about the destruction going on in Akim Abuakwa Juaso – however, such is the inertia of the bureaucracy of the Forestry Service of the Forestry Commission of Ghana, that they have not been able to do anything to halt the rampant illegal logging and illegal surface gold mining in the area. Since the road to the open pits of the surface gold miners passes right in front of the Akim Abuakwa Juaso Chief’s palace, one can safely assume that the traditional authorities of Akim Abuakwa at Ofori Panin Fie too, are aware of what is going on. It would be interesting to be a fly on the walls of Clarence House, if during a visit there by the present Okyenhene and some of his elders, they were to be asked by Britain’s Prince Charles, exactly why what amounts to a crime against humanity is going on in the area, when the Okyenhene has a reputation for championing the cause of environmental protection in Kwaebibirm? The catastrophe in a rain forest which contains the headwaters of the three major river systems on which much of urban Ghana depends for its drinking water supply, must not be allowed to continue, at a time of global climate change. One hopes that the politicians who head the ministries that are supposed to lead Ghana’s fight against global climate change, will consult committed and dedicated NGO’s involved in conservation work in our nation, such as: Rain Forest Alliance – Ghana; Conservation International - Ghana; the World Wildlife Fund for Nature - Ghana; from time to time: and not rely only on the public sector organizations (that so clearly are not sufficiently motivated to do much in that regard) tasked to help our country combat the worst effects of global climate change. A word to the wise...

Telephone (powered by Tigo – the mobile phone network in Ghana that actually works!): + 233 (0) 27 745 3109 & the not-so-hot and clueless Vodafone wireless smartfone: + 233 (0)21 976238.

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