Five million Ghanaians are directly and indirectly employed in the illegal mining sector, which is popularly called galamsey, a new report by the Institute of Statistical Social and Economic Research (ISSER) of the University of Ghana has revealed.
The report, dubbed: “Ghana Social Development Outlook (SDO) 2018” has, therefore, urged the government to re-examine the sector by streamlining it instead of banning the activities of those involved in the sector.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic after the launch of the report at the University of Ghana in Accra, the Coordinator of the Social Development Outlook at ISSER, Dr Elizabeth A. Asante, said putting a total ban on galamsey meant that five million people were going to be put out of job.
According to her, government could prevent job losses in the galamsey sector by ensuring that the activities of the illegal miners were properly regulated.
“You are putting five million people out of job when you criminalised galamsey,” Dr Asante said, pointing out that “and we are asking you (the government) to reconsider it; why don’t you regularise the galamsey sector?”
She explained that when illegal miners (galamseyers) were taught on what to do and what not to do, it would help to protect the country’s environment whilst creating job opportunities for the various people whose livelihoods depended on the sector.
Presenting a summary of the report (Social Development Outlook 2018), Dr Asante said the report had provided a two-year valuation of social development in the country, adding that the basic aim of the report was to inform national development and discourse.
She said one of the challenges the institute encountered during the compilation of the report had to do with the paucity of public disaggregated data; hence, calling on the government to increase its support to the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) to enable it to collect timely and up-to-date data on social and economic development of the country.
The 2018 Outlook has nine chapters, dealing with issues such as Education, Health, Sanitation, Environment, Housing, Work and Employment, Energy, and Governance.
In his welcome address, the Director of ISSER, Professor Peter Quartey, said the SDO was one of the ISSER’s flagship publications on the country’s social development with the aim of influencing development.
He said the Institute had been producing the evidenced-based SDO research and analytical report since 2012 on yearly basis, explaining that unlike macro-data, “social indicators may not change very rapidly.”
Prof. Quartey said the Outlook report offered us the opportunity to assess how the country was meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
According to him, ISSER as one of the leading research facility on the African continent with over 20 researchers, was in the position to provide in-depth analytical information on socio-economic development through non-partisan lenses.
He, therefore, commended the immediate past Director of the Institute, Prof. Felix Asante, the authors, reviewers, and the staff of the Institute who contributed immensely to the publication of the 2018 Outlook, as well as the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB), and the World Food Programme for sponsoring the publication.
ISSER was established in 1962 and currently serves as the research wing under the College of Humanities of the University of Ghana.
With a goal to be recognised as a centre for comprehensive and sustained research and training in the social sciences, the institute engages in a number of policy relevant research whose findings are intended to help policy makers on the best policy decisions to make for national development.
The Chairperson for the event, a Provost of the College of Humanities of the University of Ghana, Prof. Samuel Agyei-Mensah, said the SDO since its inception in 2012 had been influencing national discourse and scholarship on social development.
He said the 2018 Outlook was quite unique from the previous editions in the sense that the new report had dedicated a chapter solely to gender equity, which he described as a major goal to the SDGs.
Prof. Agyei-Mensah has, therefore, commended the past and present directors, researchers and staff of the institute for their individual and collective efforts in leading research in social development in the country.
A Senior Research Fellow at ISSER, Prof. George Owusu, for his part, urged the government to consider building more rental houses to help solve the menace of slums and homelessness in the country.
According to him, not many people in the country could own or acquire houses due to their low incomes, explaining that there were many houses in the country but due to their high pricing, many people could not afford them.
“We are building more houses that are not meant for the poor,” he said and added that “when people cannot afford decent houses, they find their own means of housing themselves and that leads to slums.”