By Fred Yaw Sarpong
The Director, External Affairs and Communications at Newmont Ghana Gold Limited, Adiki Ayitevie has said that the US$12 million development fund, meant for the communities under Ahafo mines is still available.
According to Ayitevie, even though the money is for those communities it’s important for the communities to access the fund for development.
Ten communities are the beneficiaries of this fund. They include Kenyasi number one, Kenyasi number two, Ntotroso, Wamahensu, Adroba, Subriso and among others.
Ayitevie disclosed this to Daily Express in an interview in Accra last week, when the communication department of Newmont interacts with Institute of Economic Journalists (IFEJ). The purpose of the meeting was to brief the media the current state of Newmont Ahafo and Akyem mines.
She indicated that, even though some part of the fund has been spent already, however, it is purely met for the ten host communities and each of these communities has a Sustainable Development Committees (SDCs).
‘These committees are made up of members from the communities themselves, and they determine the kind of development they want. They have to come out with specific project the community wanted. After that they applied for the fund with their business plans,’ she added.
Their business plans go through the Newmont Ahafo foundation and District Assembly, indicating what they want, before the money can be approved for them. ‘The district comes in because the project has to be maintained,’ she explained.
The Director said the level of accessing the fund depends on how strong some of the sustainable development committees are, ‘that is one of the challenges we notice.’
She emphasized that accessing the fund is one of the challenges they have notice, ‘so currently we putting into place capacity building programmes for SDCs, so that they can access the fund. Even if they do not access the fund immediately, the money remains for them.’ But it is better they access it now, so they can see some development in their areas,’ she added.
She said that the Ahafo fund was established in 2008 after an agreement was signed with the local communities.
The agreement became the legal document, committing Newmont to supporting the communities through the foundation.
What Newmont did was that every ounce of gold mine, the company set aside one dollar, then at the end of the year, one percent Newmont net profit are put into the fund for development in the communities.
Before the foundation was set up, the company recognizes that they needed to talk to the people to understand exactly what it is that they want out of the fund.
So over a two year period a committee was set up called Social Responsibility Forum, made up traditional leaders, youth leaders, women, clergies, MPs, the Ministers and then had two moderators.
This committee together with the Newmont came out to specified what the fund will be use for. Part of the money was set aside for human resource, cultural heritage, and empowerment.
Out of the fund scholarship to some needy students from secondary through tertiary education were provided. Also, part of the fund was set aside for infrastructure development.
The company works with the district assembly in order to provide infrastructure to conform to the government plans for the Asutifi District.