Friday, 3 February 2017

Mining Bauxite In The Atewa Range No Longer Makes Sense

There is no question that global climate change is impacting our nation - particularly the Ghanaian countryside - negatively.

The evidence is there for all those in Ghana who happen to be blessed with sight,  to open their eyes, to see the harm climate change is causing across our country for themselves. Literally.

The now-normal lengthy drought periods we are experiencing affect crop yields - as do the resultant low dam water-levels in its wake affect eletricity supplies from the three hydro power plants in our country.

And the devastating flash floods we now have to grapple with each year across the nation wreak havoc that costs millions of cedis and spread untold misery for countless families across Ghana.

In light of all the above, it is crucial that  Ghana's politicians understand clearly that any notion of tearing down the Atewa Range in order to supply the bauxite deposits it contains for an integrated aluminium industry in Ghana cannot and should not happen.

It would be suicidal if that catastrophe were to be allowed to happen - as it will lead to apocalyptic conditions that will condemn millions of ordinary people to a hell-on-earth existence throughout southern Ghana. A scenario that does not bear thinking.

If they think creatively, our nation's mostly-unimaginative politicians  will see that at a time of global climate change a new approach to producing aluminium in Ghana on a more sustainable basis, is definitely required.

That new approach must of necessity - at a time of global climate change - focus on partnering our sister nation Guinea, which (in any case) has superior quality bauxite deposits compared to the deposits found in the Atewa Range,  to create a west African integrated aluminium industry.

In that win-win business model both Ghana and Guinea will benefit from collaborating to produce aluminium for local and export markets within the sub-region - and for  export to overseas markets if they are competitive enough price-wise.

An added bonus will be that the three river systems for which the Atewa Range serves as a watershed - the Ayensu, Densu and Birim - will be protected as a conservation initiative to ensure the transformation of the area into a national park: to boost Ghana's tourism industry's numbers yet further.

Members of our nation's hard-of-hearing political class appear not to realise the difference that the tourism industry could make in the transformation of our country into a prosperous society, if we focused our collective attention on it. Literally.

It will come as a surprise to many Ghanaian politicians to learn that Thailand earned over US$42 billion from the over 32 million tourists whom that nation hosted in 2016.

If Ghana has all the attributes that Thailand has, and more, why should we not focus on developing our nation's tourism potential too - of which the  Atewa Range is a foremost candidate (that we must  tackle as soon as practicable)?

We must be grateful that Nkrumah's idea of an integrated aluminium industry in Ghana did not  see the light of day before his overthrow in 1966 - as we would definitely be suffering untold hardship today if that had happened.

Where would the tens of millions  of Ghanaians in southern Ghana whose treated drinking water supply is sourced from the three river systems that take their  headwaters from the Atewa Range obtain water for daily use from, if the Atewa Range had been destroyed during the Nkrumah era, for an integrated aluminium industry in our country?

The destruction of the Atewa Range to mine bauxite will create a huge national crisis of apocalyptic proportions, that will herald an unimaginable  national security nightmare for the authorities.

We must not tempt fate by ever attempting to  mine bauxite in the Atewa Range - which took millions of years to evolve into the valuable  natural capital  treasure-trove we see and cherish today that provides such critical ecosystem services for society.

For the benefit of our nation's politicians, today, we are reproducing a culled Reuters news report about Thai tourism by Pairat Temphairojana. Tourism in the Atewa Range, once it is turned into a national park, will  lead to jobs galore and a bonanza for micro-entrepreneurs catering to the needs of tourists visiting the Atewa National Park.

Please read on:

''Thailand expects record tourist arrivals in 2016

By Pairat Temphairojana | BANGKOK

International tourist arrivals in Thailand are expected to reach a record high in 2016, the tourism minister said on Wednesday, after nearly 30 million foreigners came to its temples, beaches and bars in 2015.

Tourism boomed even after the deadliest attack on Thai soil in peacetime at a shrine in central Bangkok shook the country and as a high profile trial for the murder of two British backpackers sullied the industry's reputation.

Tourism accounts for about 10 percent of Thailand's GDP and is one of the few bright spots for an economy that underperformed peers in Southeast Asia.

Visitors to Thailand should rise to 32 million in 2016, said Tourism Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, emphasizing that it was not a target but an estimate. That would be more than 7 percent higher than the 29.88 million that visited in 2015.

The government is targeting revenue from tourism of 2.3 trillion baht ($61.02 billion) in 2016, up from 2.21 trillion baht in 2015, she said.

Around 60 to 70 percent of travelers are repeat visitors, she said.

The country providing the most tourists to Thailand was China, with around 8 million in 2015. Malaysia came in a distant second with more than 3 million, and Japan, third with 1.4 million.

Thailand's central bank predicts the economy will grow 3.5 percent this year, due to government stimulus measures and tourism.

The August bomb attack in Bangkok killed 20 people including 14 foreigners, and injured more than 120 people."

End of culled Reuters news report by Pairat Temphairojana.
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