Policy makers and experts from five West African countries will meet in Accra in August this year to deliberate on inequalities and natural resource management in the sub-region.
From Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso and Senegal, they would discuss the role that natural resource management could play in reducing the growing economic and social disparities in the region.
The two-day high-level conference, scheduled for August 16-20, was organized by the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), the Center for Integrated Social Development (ISODEC) and other partners.
Ahead of the event, a pre-conference consultation was held in Accra yesterday to solicit views from key stakeholders from Ministries, Departments and Agencies and the private sector to firm up preparations.
It was also to set the tone for the preparation of conference papers that would set out the problem of inequality, policy options and take stock of the drivers of inequality, mitigating measures and dependence on natural resources.
Addressing the participants, the Director General of NDPC, Dr KodjoEssiem Mensah-Abrampa, said the conference should bring visibility to policy makers on the nexus between natural resource dependence and multiple inequalities.
He said it would help to better understand and contribute to knowledge and highlight measures to improve equitable and green development through the management of natural resources in the region.
He said that the equitable distribution of mineral resources to improve the lot of the people had been a challenge in the sub-region and that if left unresolved, it would affect the socio-economic development of Africa in general.
“Mineral resources are an asset; if you don’t manage them well, they will become a liability,” he said.
Dr Mensah-Abrampasa says that after more than three centuries of mining in Africa, there was not much to show, especially when mining communities like Obuasi and others in other countries do not had not experienced any significant development.
He said the conference would pave the way for discussions on issues such as accountability, gender aspects and equitable distributions, identify policy directions and propose solutions.
A development consultant, Charles Abugre, said inequalities in the management of natural resources were widening according to data from the Ghana Statistical Service, thus requiring action by all stakeholders.