Inaugural meeting in Accra, Ghana

Inaugural meeting in Accra, Ghana

Members of the ECOWAS Federation of Chamber of Mines have adopted a constitution to govern the operations of the Federation. A resolution for the adoption of the constitution was passed by members of the founding Chambers after a meeting held in Accra on Thursday, November 3, 2016. The Founding Mining Chambers and Association were the Abuja Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Nigeria, Chambre des Mines du Burkina Faso, Chambre des Mines de Guinée, Miners Association of Nigeria, and the Ghana Chamber of Mines.

Among other provisions, the constitution spells out the organizational structure of the Federation and the powers conferred on its directors and officers. The adoption of the constitution brings to an end a process that began in 2010 to rally all the Chambers of Mines in the sub-region under one umbrella to enhance the prospects of the mining sector.

The rationale for creating the ECOWAS Federation of Chambers of Mines is also to foster closer collaboration and alliance in the mining sector within the sub-region. The initiative had become imperative, considering the importance of mining to the economies of ECOWAS members and similarities in the challenges facing the mining industry in the sub-region. There are plans to constitute other similar sub-regional federations into a continental body to be known as the Africa Federation of Chambers of Mines.

Opening the meeting, the ECOWAS Commissioner of Energy and Mines, Dr Morlaye Bangura, expressed gratitude to the Ghana Chamber of Mines for the pivotal role it played in the formation of the Federation. He said the aim of ECOWAS is to promote integration, establish a monetary union in West Africa, and improve the livelihoods of its people. He said the ECOWAS Commission also encouraged well-structured platforms that foster collaboration and harmonious development.

Dr Bangura said “The ECOWAS Commission acknowledges the profound effects of what will be done today. It is to proclaim to the world that the Federation is authentic”. He urged governments in West Africa to use their mineral resource endowment to improve the living conditions of their people.

The President of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, Mr Kwame Addo-Kufuor, who chaired the meeting, commended the ECOWAS Secretariat, particularly the Commissioner for Energy and Mines and Mr William Baidoe, Principal Programme Officer, for their relentless support to make the establishment of the Federation a reality. He said the formation of the ECOWAS Federation of Chambers of Mines was expected to give mining industry investors in the sub-region a voice at ECOWAS, adding, “It is our expectation that our representation at ECOWAS will help us positively influence policy decisions on mining to the mutual benefit of investors and host countries”.

“It is now time for our respective countries to leverage investment opportunities in the mining sector for sustainable economic development,” he stated.

In a welcome address, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, Mr Sulemanu Koney, underlined the importance of minerals to Ghana’s economy and development over the years. He said apart from providing the much needed foreign exchange, the mining industry has become the leading contributor to Ghana’s domestic revenue mobilization drive and pre-eminent source of employment. He said the large-scale mining sector also spends significant proportion of its revenue on procurement of local inputs, thereby supporting the country’s local content drive. He noted, for instance, that the large-scale mining sector spent US$ 1.4 billion, representing 48 per cent of its revenue in 2015 on local purchases.

Mr Koney, however, expressed worry that in spite of these benefits, a section of the general public continues to question whether mineral rich countries such as Ghana had benefitted enough from mining. “The skepticism about the positive impact of our industry is a major threat to its sustainability. This imminent threat is reflected in hostile policy prescriptions, laws and legislation which, if not addressed, will encumber the mining sector’s sustainability,” he said. He said the skepticism required a concerted effort to address it, expressing the belief that the formation of the ECOWAS Federation of Chambers of Mines will help achieve that objective, since the story is similar in other West African countries.

The Founding Members, among others, appointed a four-member Executive Council comprising the Ghana Chamber of Mines, Chambre des Mines du Burkina Faso, Chambre des Mines de Guinée, and Miners Association of Nigeria.

The Members also appointed the Chief Executive Officer of The Ghana Chamber of Mines as the first Executive Director. The Ghana Chamber of Mines was also mandated to incorporate and host the Primary Secretariat of the Federation.

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