Revenue from the extractive industries represents an important share of total government revenue in West Africa. In Ghana, almost 20 percent of government revenue comes from the mining sector whereas in Guinea as much as 90 percent of revenue is from mining. In Burkina Faso, where mining investments have grown consistently in the last five years, 20 percent of GDP is from mining, while gold alone accounts for 70 per cent of export revenues.
Yet, despite the enormous contribution of extractives to government revenue, the region lacks consistent and meaningful data when it comes to the impact of mining on community well-being in areas where mining firms are located.
To help increase the benefits from mineral resources and enhance the contribution to economic growth and poverty reduction in local communities, a four-year multi-country study project titled ‘Beyond Zero Harm’ was launched in Accra on March 1. The study countries are Burkina Faso, Ghana and Guinea. The project, developed by industry and civil society participants, will pilot a participatory process for measuring economic and social well-being in mining communities in the three countries.
This process will also be inclusive, bringing together actors from government, especially local government, community-based organizations and mining companies to critically define and measure community well-being over the next four years. Influential community women’s groups and prominent youth organizations, as well as other key community-based organizations that are traditionally marginalized in the development policy making process, will be especially empowered within this participatory process.
The project is being implemented through a partnership between World University Service of Canada (WUSC) and the Centre for International Studies and Cooperation (CECI) working through the West Africa Governance and Economic Sustainability in Extractive Areas (WAGES) project, the Government of Canada and the African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET), with funding from Canada’s International Development Research Centre.(IDRC)
ACET will play a key research and advisory role in this project. It will aim not just to concretely measure economic and social well-being in the community, but will move beyond the prevalent mining industry concept of causing “zero harm” to create a process that drives collaborative and strategic planning to improve community well-being. This concept resonates with ACET’s core work in providing a pan-African peer learning platform where government, the private sector and development partners can come together to share experiences and provide collective input towards the design and implementation of transformational policies. This platform is the Pan-African Coalition for Transformation, which has a chapter, or peer learning group, focused solely on extractives.
Since the start of ACET’s extractive resource services program in 2010, it has been researching and advising on ways for resource-rich African countries to leverage their extractives sector to expand job creation, stimulate the growth of local businesses, and contribute to broad-based, sustainable development. ACET understands the complexities and challenges with local content development and a key focus is on making the extractives sector more transformational. In recent years, ACET has undertaken a comprehensive study of eight African countries to inform on local content and value addition in the mineral, oil and gas sectors. ACET has also explored the impact that artisanal and small-scale mining is having in agricultural communities in West Africa.