Ghana’s former Ambassador to the United Nations (UN), James Victor Gbeho, has urged the government to enact a law that will help curb the control of foreigners exploiting the country’s natural resources.
He noted that the country had lost 95 percent of its tropical forest since independence while very little royalties were paid to chiefs in communities endowed with gold, bauxite, timber, manganese, among other resources.
Mr Gbeho made the call at a lecture organised by the Institute of Diplomatic Practice and Development Policies (IDPDP) on the topic: “Post 2015 Development Agenda and Missing links in Africa’s Development Strategies.”
The lecture forms part of the Institute’s activities meant to trigger discussions on missing links in Africa’s development with the hope of finding a common African position on sustainable development as the Millennium Developments Goals expires later this year.
“Every week, they carry our gold in special charted planes, royalties to chiefs are set very low, this must stop by law, if we don’t stop this now, some time to come, we cannot stop it because they will say we have signed agreement to that effect,” he said.
Mr Gbeho, who is also the chairman of the governing board of IDPDP, observed that the country had the capacity to develop but all that it required was leadership that would lead the people into prosperity.
“We need different sets of strategies to survive,” he said.
Participants also raised similar concerns over the near takeover of the country’s natural resources by multi-national companies who were preoccupied with profit making and repatriation of profits, as well as, Ghana’s lack of defined national interest on issues.
Kwesi Pratt, Managing Editor of the Insight Newspaper, said Ghana ought to take control of its resources and harness them to improve quality education, health and infrastructure.
The diplomats, who dominated the discussions, held that Ghana often lost in negotiations due to the lack of defined national interest on overriding matters bothering the nation.
Delivering the maiden lecture, Alexander Kwame Archine, Head of the Developmental Strategic Unit (IDPDP) asked African countries to renegotiate theirs contracts, particularly, the failed ones.
He said most contracts did not favour the African countries because those who signed them on behalf of their nations lacked understanding of defined national interests.
Mr Archine observed that as a result of lopsided negotiations, foreign investors often took away Africa’s natural resources made of up of mainly gold and other raw materials, leaving the people to drench in abject poverty.