Ghana Takes Action Against Illegal Chinese Miners

Tarkwa mining
Mining at the Tarkwa Mine in Ghana. Photo: Lamgold/Wikimedia Commons.

On 5 June 2013, 169 Chinese miners were arrested in Ghana’s gold-mining Ashanti region. These arrests followed Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama’s decision to put an end to illegal mining by foreigners. Illegal mining is the driving factor behind a raft of problems in Ghana: it pits citizens against one another and against Chinese miners, results in an economic shortfall for the government and deprives citizens of a possible source of income. Most importantly, it could have a negative impact on peace and social cohesion, as currently witnessed in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Ghana, the second largest gold producer in Africa after South Africa, has in recent years recorded a large influx of migrants from various countries in search of raw materials, especially gold. Thousands of Chinese have left their villages in China, searching for better opportunities in gold-rich African countries like Burkina Faso, Togo and Ghana. Now these Chinese migrants have set their sights on the Ghanaian galamsey (artisanal gold miner). According to the South China Morning Post, nearly 50 000 illegal prospectors have left China for Ghana since 2005. According to the Ghana Immigration Service, these migrants use tourist visas to enter Ghana via neighbouring countries.

Global Voices

Will Local Content Policies Help Africa Avoid the Oil Curse?

Tullow oil camp, Uganda. Image by Conservation Concepts on Flickr (CC BY 2.0).
Tullow oil camp, Uganda. Image by Conservation Concepts on Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

In recent years, major reserves of oil have been discovered at various locations across Africa. If this ‘black gold’ represents an opportunity for economic growth, the fear that the windfall may not benefit the local populations – and maybe even become a curse – is shared by Sub-Saharan African citizens and experts alike.

In 2009 Modern Ghana’s Nana Adjoa Hackmansuggested a 2009 possible solution:

“It is common practice for oil and gas producing countries to negotiate local content agreements with interested IOCs [International Oil Companies] in an attempt to secure for the country a higher share of the value from oil and gas projects. This trend has surfaced as a result of the realization of the poor economic performance of many resource rich countries despite their vast wealth.”

Economic and Political Indicators: Do we Still Need Them?

Synchronism indicator. Picture: Leo Reynolds/flickr

In a somewhat unexpected turn of events, the presentation of Matthias Busse on Thursday, 1st March entitled ‘Governance in Developing Countries’ at the CIS Colloquium series led to a heated debate on the necessity and validity of indicators, such as those for example developed by the World Bank. Unlike in usual antipositivist development circles, however, the audience engaged in a constructive debate with Busse about his research design concerning the following hypothesis: ‘External drivers of change are less effective than internal ones to improve business regulations’; but how can we discern internal drivers of change from external ones, and how can we measure the well-being of the business regulation framework?

At the beginning, Busse clarified that the project he presented is still in its early stages; yet, he invited disagreement by not being able to explain how internal drivers of change could, even theoretically, be differentiated from external ones. External drivers, such as the IMF or the World Bank, provide conditional loans, which in turn directly affect the so-called internal drivers of change: FDI, press freedom, or trade. Hence, it might be difficult to independently measure and then compare the effect of these two factors on the regulatory framework.

Ghana Moves to Arrest Homosexuals

Dangerous Signs of Affection. Photo: ebel/flickr

In a new burst of African homophobia, Mr. Paul Evans Aidoo, a government minister in Ghana, has drawn much national support and international condemnation after calling on the country’s intelligence services to round up Ghana’s gay population. The move by the minister follows months of campaigning by the Christian Council of Ghana calling on Ghanaians not to vote for any politician who believes in the rights of homosexuals in the upcoming elections. The comments from the National Democratic Congress (NDC) politician come in the feverish run-up to the 2012 elections and have drawn wide support from political, religious and social leaders throughout the country, such as representatives of both the Christian as well as the Muslim clergy.

Currently, Ghana’s constitution does not extend human rights or legal protection based on sexual orientation. In fact, its criminal code contains a clause prohibiting “unnatural carnal knowledge”. This ambiguous phrase reflects a pervasive homophobia cultivated across the whole society. Even Ghana’s usually fairly vocal human rights activist community seems complacent. Amnesty International Ghana Director Laurence Amesu is refusing to take a position on the law, just like Richard Quason, the deputy commissioner of the Ghana Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice.

The lifestyles of gay, lesbian, bisexuals and transgender people are currently listed as criminal in 38 African countries. The call from Mr Aidoo thus marks only the latest in a series of expressions of officially condoned homophobia across the continent.