A former Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, Dr Joyce Aryee, has challenged African leaders to put the continent’s natural resources to efficient use.
“It is time for African leaders to think inter-generationally in meeting the needs of our people,” she told a gathering of senior-level journalists/editors, civil society activists, and parliamentary select committees engaged in the extractive sector.
According to Dr Aryee, the continent’s inability to use its resources to champion the cause of its development is due to inefficiency in the governance system.
She was speaking at the opening of the fifth Regional Extractive Industries Knowledge Hub (REIK HUB) in Accra yesterday.
The two-week course is being attended by 40 participants from countries, including Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe, South Sudan, Kenya, South Africa, Sierra Leone and Switzerland.
The course, which is organised by Revenue Watch Institute (RWI) and GIZ, a German development agency, comprehensively covers the extractive industry value chain and seeks to deepen knowledge and equip participants with skills for them to undertake independent analysis of fiscal and revenue management policies, Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) reports, contracts and key legislation in their own countries.
It also seeks to develop regional capacity to provide effective training and mentoring to grow the number of knowledgeable, skilled human resource who are duly equipped to affect strong oversight and governance of extractive industries resources.
Dr Aryee, who chaired the function, said it was time African leaders prioritised development challenges confronting their countries so that revenue from the extractive industry did not just fill budget gaps but rather catalysed specific development agenda.
She noted that besides corruption, bad governance was said to be denying the continent the much needed guidance for good economic progress.
That, she said, was because good governance on the continent had become a slogan much talked about but not delivered.
Dr Aryee said while a large section of the populace, particularly in Ghana, was expecting the oil and gas sector to be the panacea for the economic challenges confronting the country, the oil and gas industry alone was not enough to break the back of poverty.
Citing Nigeria as a country that had earned so much revenue from oil but which was yet to translate it into development, she said leadership of the continent must put in place measures that ensured that their citizenry benefitted from their resources.
She said “the extractive industry should be seen as catalysts for development,” and not the solution to all the problems confronting the country.
Dr Aryee, therefore, urged the participants to use advocacy to keep governments and other key stakeholders in the extractive industry on their toes to ensure that the industry catalysed the continent’s development.
The Regional Co-ordinator of the RWI, Mr Emmanuel Kuyole, urged the participants to share experiences, adding that “our goal is not just to complain about the challenges in the sector but to do something about the problems.
By Seth Bokpe & Vincent Musah/Daily Graphic/Ghana