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We Must Not Allow Mining In Forest Reserves Under Any Circumstances

Apparently, the Hon. Yaw Osafo Marfo is encouraging African nations to focus on mining minerals as the path to growth without debt. Well, how about allowing private-sector companies to bid to self-finance the building and maintenance of our infrastructure in return for not being taxed for at least 25 years?

The question is: Is Balore, the French logistics conglomerate, not self-funding a railway line from the Benin coast to Niamey in Niger and the Burkinabe capital of Ouagadougou? Nothing can convince those who know the real value of rainforests - especially at a time when global climate change is negatively impacting rural Ghana - that allowing such priceless natural capital to be destroyed in order to gain access to the minerals underneath them makes any sense.

With respect, no nation whose leaders have foresight and are blessed with abundant common sense will ever allow forests that contain the headwaters of major river systems to be destroyed by miners under any circumstances.

Furthermore, if nations such as Thailand are able to earn billions of dollars from their national economies' tourism sectors alone, could we not also earn billions of dollars too from a revamped tourism industry? In 2016, for example, Thailand earned US$72 billion from the 31 million visitors it hosted that year. This blog will keep making this particular point until our hard-of-hearing elites get the point it seeks to make.

If only our leaders would stop sanctioning the destruction of our natural heritage - in pursuit of the dangerous philosophy of growth for growth's sake without actually examining what constitutes that growth in the real economy and examining its impact on our nation's natural capital - and focus instead on sustainable development that does not harm Mother Nature, would future generations of our people not be able to at least enjoy a decent quality of life similar to ours, if not better?

It is shortsighted in the extreme to focus on mining minerals and destroying priceless natural capital that could anchor a thriving tourism sector today that will create wealth that stays in Ghana and jobs galore for young people across the entire country.

With respect, it is time such selfish and backward thinking was challenged. Period. Has it ever not occurred to the Hon. Yaw Osafo Marfos of our country that if they had gone to China and sold them the idea of banning the export of all unrefined gold from Ghana and building a gold refinery here to enable the Precious Minerals Marketing Company (PMMC) to produce credit-card-sized gold bars, gold coins and traditional-style Ghanaian jewelry, it would enable our country to create an outbound Chinese tourism market in Ghana, which will attract tens of millions of Chinese to flock to Ghana annually to purchase the aforementioned gold bars, gold coins and traditional-style jewelry? Haaba.

For now it is definitely smarter to leave most of our minerals - particularly those in forest reseves - in the ground. Future generations will most probably invent new ways of precision mining using AI robots and driverless heavy equipment to mine minerals in a way that does not damage the natural environment. For their sake, let us leave all the minerals that we will have to destroy valuable forests for, today, in the ground for now instead - for the benefit of future generations of our people: as their inheritance from our generation.

The Yaw Osafo Marfos in our midst need to step out of the shadow of conventional economic thinking and do some lateral thinking about how to expand our national economy in sustainable fashion without destroying Ghana's forest reserves in the process. Simply put, under no circumstances must we allow mining in any of Ghana's forest reserves.

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