By: Fred Yaw Sarpong- Daily Express
Leaders in Africa especially those in the Economic Community of West Africa State (ECOWAS) sub-region have been urged to create value addition to the mineral resources at their disposal in order to create employment for their people.
The Minister for Petroleum, Mr. Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah said the region is blessed with all kinds of resources such as oil and gas, gold, diamonds, bauxite, manganese, iron ore, limestone, coal, uranium and among other.
“Despite our region’s undisputed potential in all these resources, there remains the challenge of taking the opportunities to optimally utilize this resource potential,” Mr. Armah-Kofi Buah said this in his opening address at the on-going three-day 1st ECOWAS Mining and Petroleum Forum and Exhibition (ECOMOF) at the Accra International Conference Center.
The forum is under the theme: “Valorizing West Africa’s Mineral and Petroleum Resources through Regional Cooperation,” and it expected to end today Thursday 8 October, 2015. Over 100 delegates made up of mining and petroleum Ministers from the sub-region attended forum.
He said individual countries of the sub-region continue to compete among themselves to export unprocessed mine products, without the least efforts at adding value to these minerals. “We have failed to do this to improve our economies,” he added.
The Minister said “oil continue to flow from wellheads from oilfields offshore and onshore to markets abroad to serve foreign refineries while governments in our sub-region spend scarce foreign exchange to import finished products.”
Mr. Armah-Kofi Buah said as governments and individual countries continue on this path, they are not only denying their citizens the opportunities of capturing the enormous value associated with the entire value chain of these resources, but they are also creating decent jobs in foreign lands while the sub-region populations hallow in rising unemployment, a phenomenon that is becoming a security threat in the sub-region.
“In a similar vein, we are creating entrepreneurs, growing allied businesses in foreign lands and building their economies at the expense of our indigenous business and national economies,” the minister noted, adding that “it is the need to reverse this paradox of hunger in the mist of plenty.”
“What can we do to make sure that crude oil that we are all producing so much in the sub-region, we are not selling it to Europe and other countries to be produce to us back to buy as finished product?
“We must strategize to make sure that our refineries are working. It is time we pull resources together to put up some of these refineries in the region,” he appealed to ECOWAS leaders.
The Minister stated that “we can come together and establish a good crude oil refinery here in Ghana while a gold refinery can be located in another member country, just to make sure that our resources are refine here in the region by adding value to them,”
He appealed to the participant at the forum to provide foundation blocks that will enable the sub-region construct the needed transformative agenda to deliver national and regional economic development, create employment, and above all, improve the standard living of the average ECOWAS citizen through value added utilization of collective resources.
The President of ECOWAS Commission, H.E. Kadre Desire Ouedraogo promised that the commission will continue to be guided by ots core operative principles that border on cooperation, harmonization and integration.
“We will continue to make concrete proposals that will enable the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government and the Council of Ministers take decisions on the main orientations of policies of Member States and the Community.