Dr Yao Graham, Executive Director of Third World Network-Africa, a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) involved in the mining sector, has condemned the criminal justice approach in tackling illegal mining in the country.
“It is a complex problem that cannot be solved by jailing people,” he said, pointing out that the issue of illegal mining, popularly referred to as ‘galamsey’, is caused by the lack of employment opportunities for the youth.
“The fundamental solution to the issue would be to create economic opportunities,” he said, adding that without a clear-cut long term solution, the fight against illegal mining would be lost.
Dr Graham made this known in an interview with BUSINESS GUIDE in Accra after the maiden Ghana Chamber of Mining “Mining for Development Forum.”
“If you use the criminal justice approach, would the prisons be big enough to hold all the people who are engaged in ‘galamsey,’ so from that single point of view you can tell that you cannot solve the ‘galamsey’ problem with a law and order approach.”
“The people actively engaged in ‘galamsey’ and the people working on the streets are all people who are looking for a living.”
Ghana, he observed, is experiencing a social crisis currently because of the problem of inequality and the absence of economic opportunities.
“We cannot deal with it as a regulatory thing without solving the fundamental drivers of why more people are going into galamsey.”
The Executive Director of Third World Network-Africa was of the view that the root cause could also be as a result of the crisis in agriculture which is not yielding the needed economic gains.
“If you look at the figures of the number of people in agriculture and its percentage contribution to GDP productivity is very low. People are not finding a decent return from engaging in the agric sector.
He noted that it is not an irrational choice for people to decide to go into illegal mining, “even though we rather wish they do not make those choices.”
By Emelia Ennin-Abbey