The Western regional Minister-designate Dr. Kweku Afriyie, says despite the fact that the Western region is blessed with a lot of natural resources, the region is also cursed with the challenges that come with it.
Appearing before Parliament’s Appointments Committee Tuesday, Dr. Afriyie said the exploitation of the natural resources in the region has destroyed most water bodies and a large section of the environment.
“The Western Region, we have been blessed and we have been cursed. The Western Region, we have so much to give to this country – currently if you take the income in this country we contribute so much. If you take cocoa, we are producing some 60 per cent, sometimes even 65 per cent of Ghana’s cocoa. Almost all the forex exchange in this country are left in the Western Region.
“We produce manganese – [we are] the only [part] of this country producing manganese. The bauxite being exploited in this country is at Awaso – and I am mindful that there is bauxite in the Atiwa forest. We also have virtually 100 per cent of Ghana’s rubber estates and about 40 per cent or more of the oil palm estates in this country and we have overtaken Ashanti Region as the leading gold producer in Ghana now. We have huge reserves of every mineral.
“But in spite of that, we suffer some of the worst burdens of deprivation in this country. If you take the road sector, our roads are the worst in this country. Unfortunately we have the heaviest rainfall in this country and that has always been used as an excuse not to give us some of the good roads that everybody wants in this country.
“Because of the mining sector, some of the worst incidences of HIV/AIDS were in the mining areas, the prevalence rate was very high. Again, environmental degradation, water pollution, and so on are confronting the region.”