Oxfam Extractive Industry team's community Field Visit to Ellembelle District, Ghana. Photo Credit: Obrempong Yaw Ampofo/FoN

Oxfam teams from Senegal, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mozambique, Kenya, and Uganda among others visited Ghana to share experiences on the utilization of mineral revenues in their respective countries.

The tussle between communities and government on benefits of mineral revenues; is there any solution in sight?

A drive-through mining communities has always raised questions about whether mineral revenues have been invested to the benefit of locals. Most of these communities have little to show for the wealth that is generated right under their nose. In Ghana and other African countries, where extractive activities are present, these concerns are well-founded. Oxfam teams from Senegal, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mozambique, Kenya, and Uganda among others visited Ghana to share experiences on the utilization of mineral revenues in their respective countries.  

The learning event was a great opportunity for the different countries to share the mineral revenue management frameworks from their respective countries to identify linkages and common challenges. It also helped them connect for multi-country advocacy and research that could lead to a comprehensive comparative study across various African countries.

The Extractive Industry Governance team from Oxfam met with Ghana’s partners Africa Centre for Energy Policy and Friends of the Nation and learned about the legal framework that governs the disbursement of mineral revenues in Ghana. Their interaction with the Shama and Ellembelle district assemblies and host communities also showed how subnational mining revenue administration functions.

The Shama and Ellembelle district assemblies identified the high expectation of mineral resource communities as one major challenge which has created scuffles between communities and government. Such high expectations do not translate to the reality on the ground which often leave them disappointed. The assemblies find this as problematic because the extraction from the communities do not yield the needed resources to embark on massive development in their localities.

Other challenges highlighted were late disbursement of mineral revenue; limited space in engaging the government and complex bureaucracy in revenue disbursement.

Roberto Stefani is the Coordinator of the Extractive Industry Knowledge Hub with the Global Extractive Industry Program. He said the cross-country event has benefits such as peer learning and experience sharing.

“We learned a lot from the Ghana team and the other countries represented in this event. It was a good learning platform to share experiences, compare systems, and discuss challenges in the generation and distribution of mineral revenues but also the need for a preliminary cost-benefit analysis, that considers communities’ rights and the impacts of these activities on them, ” Stefani explained.  

Participants recount lessons learned especially in the mix match between community expectations and anticipated development.  

Mahamane Omar Oumarou, Extractive Industry & Fiscal Justice Technical Assistant from Niger believes the meeting with Shama District Assembly (one of the Mineral Resource Districts in Ghana) on sub-national mineral revenue and model of accountability was a useful exposure to connect the dots.

The Shama district model is  a participatory approach to revenue mobilization. The district engages their constituents through community consultation and validation processes in their district medium term development planning. After this consultative process, capital projects earmarked for the district are placed on an accountability board for easy community accessibility and validation.                                                                                                                                  

Omar Ounarou sees this model as progressive and replicable.

“The visit created a space for reflection on the example from the Shama District Assembly; what can we learn from it and how can we collaborate better?” Omar questioned.  

The Extractive Industry team of Oxfam sees a window of opportunity to push the 30 percent campaign _a West Africa platform to advocate for increases in mining revenues by 30% to target women empowerment initiatives within the region_ at the District level disbursement through continuous and sustained engagement across the different African countries. 

Tatiana Almeida, Extractive Industry Project Officer, from Mozambique added “there are a lot of things to learn as the discussions show there are particular issues in each country and they all have gaps in the disbursement of mineral revenues to the district no matter the level of advancement.”

The two districts selected for this visit offered some recommendations to address the continuous tussle between communities on one side and government/ private investors on the other. Among the key things the districts are suggesting are improvement of road and other infrastructure and job creation especially for women and the youth in these communities. They also believe investment should be tailored towards sustainability of the natural resource like reclamation and climate adaptation programmes.

Other key takeaways for the team included the responsibility of Civil Society Organisations working on extractive governance to show a keen interest in the accountability mechanism from the generation of mineral revenues to its disbursement as well as the social and environmental impacts on communities.

It, therefore, behoves Oxfam to work with partners and strengthen networks to collect efficient data to back our advocacy.