MEET THE PRESS 2014 PRESENTATION  BY THE MINISTER FOR LANDS AND NATURAL RESOURCES  HON. NII OSAH MILLS  

Introduction:

It is my pleasure to be here this afternoon to brief you on the current state of implementation of programmes and projects being pursued by the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources. With me here are my two (2) Deputy Ministers: Hon. Barbara Serwaa Asamoah and Hon. Ebenezer Okletey Teye Larbi and the Chief Director, Prof Bruce Banoeng-Yakubo. Also present are the Chief Executives of the Lands, Minerals and Forestry Commissions, the Administrator of Stool Lands, the Director of Geological Survey Department, the Managing Director of Precious Minerals Marketing Company and the Directors of the Ministry.

 

Mr. Chairman, my presentation will cover a brief introduction of the policies and programmes initiated by the Ministry, the respective strategies and current status of implementation, prevailing challenges within the natural resources sector and the way forward. These programmes and projects are enshrined within the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda (GSGDA) and for that matter, the Better Ghana Agenda. 

 

Mr. Chairman, with your kind permission I wish to commence my presentation by initially touching on the Mining Sub-Sector. 

MINING SUB-SECTOR

Ladies and gentlemen, we acknowledge that minerals and metals are essential raw materials for industrialization and transformation of mining dependent economies. Indeed, when properly managed, mining has the potential to contribute significantly to sustainable development.

However, despite the opportunities in the sector, mining comes along with its trail with some negative impacts such as; land degradation, pollution of the environment including water bodies and land tenure and compensation issues.

In a bid to address these issues, the current Draft National Mining Policy has its guiding principle: “Sustainable Development through Mining”. The policy aims to involve all stakeholders in decision making in the mining sector in Ghana. It also seeks to promote diversification to lesser known minerals, and to promote linkages between the mining sector and other sectors of the economy.

 

Furthermore, Ghana is working with the Africa Minerals Development Centre under the auspices of the Africa Union to domesticate the Africa Mining Vision into a Country Mining Vision. This is intended to align the Africa Mining Vision with Ghana’s broad developmental objectives to catalyse sustainable development.

 

I wish to highlight some key achievements as well as strategies being implemented under the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda (GSGDA) to address the challenges of the mining sub-sector. 

Contribution of the Mining Sector to Ghana’s Economy

In 2013, the mining sector contributed 19% of government revenue as collected by the Domestic Tax Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority. In terms of total merchandise exports, the sector contributed 38% in 2013. It is worthy of note that since 1991, the mining sector has been the single largest contributor to total merchandise export with gold accounting for 95% to the mineral portfolio. In 2013, Ghana produced 4.25 million ounces of gold, which resulted in export revenues of over US$5.1 billion. 

 

Strengthening Regulatory Framework Governing Mining Operations

To strengthen the regulatory framework governing management of the mining industry, six (6) mining regulations were recently passed by Parliament to operationalise the Minerals and Mining Act 2006, Act 703. 

 

Passage of the Mineral Development Fund Bill

The Ministry is also facilitating passage of the Mineral Development Fund Bill to help address developmental issues in mining communities. The Bill is currently before Cabinet. 

 The objectives of the Fund are to:

a. Give legal backing to the Fund;

b. Ensure timely and mandatory releases of Funds into the MDF for the intended support for socio-economic development;

c. Ensure Accountability and Transparency;

d. Ensure Good Governance; and

e. Fund research, human resources development and projects aimed at promoting the mining sector; among others.

 

Amendments to Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703)

With respect to the existing mining Act, amendments are required to make it more responsive to our ever-changing circumstances. Currently, one of the areas of law that is being proposed for amendment is small scale mining. A memorandum has been submitted to Cabinet to approve proposed amendments to be submitted to Parliament. The proposed amendments will ensure strict liability for offences committed under Act 703 and prescribe severe penalties for illegal mining or galamsey. The courts will also be empowered to confiscate equipment used in illegal mining activities as well as any minerals produced from such activities. Other areas of the law that are being reviewed include Stabilisation Provisions and Royalties

 

Impact of Gold Price Decline on Ghana’s Mining Industry

The price of gold witnessed a significant fall in 2013 due to several factors including commodity price dynamics, improving US economy among others. The falling gold price is a major cause for concern more especially for Ghana because gold is our flagship mineral accounting for some 95% of total mineral exports. From the almost $1,700 monthly average of January, the price consistently declined through the year, except for a brief revival in August and September, to a monthly average low of $1,227 in December, for 2013. Currently, the price of an ounce of gold is about US$1,300. This means from January 2013 to November 2014, there has been a decline of some US$550.

 

Provisional figures collated from the Ghana Revenue Authority indicate a shortfall of about 24% in the contribution of mining sector to domestic tax revenues in 2013, compared to that of 2012. 

In addition to the reduced macro-contribution to Government revenue, the general slowdown in the mining industry also resulted in medium and micro impacts in terms of loss of employment and other local socio-economic contributions, as operating mines and exploration companies restructured to cut cost in the face of falling gold prices.

 

AngloGold Retrenchment Issue

Mr. Chairman, I know stakeholders are interested in what is happening at the AngloGold Ashanti (Obuasi mine). As you are already aware, AngloGold Ashanti along with the Workers’ Union recently announced the retrenchment of some its workers. Indeed, the company has been facing serious operational challenges over the last decade or so. It has therefore become necessary to review the mine’s operations to ensure that its resource potential is fully realised, not only for the company but for the people of Obuasi as well as Ghana as a whole.

 

Broad stakeholder engagement is on-going and My Ministry has recently endorsed a proposal for a limited feasibility study and development of the mine to achieve this goal.

During this period, the mine would remain operable, though operations and production will be reduced in preparation for a more streamlined, efficient and enhanced operation.

Improve Support to Small Scale Mining

Ladies and gentlemen, as you are already aware, illegal mining (galamsey) activities have had untold negative effect on the environment, our water resources, agriculture and food security. Indeed, Government sees small scale mining as a legitimate business with great potential for poverty reduction in communities where there is no economic alternative. 

Small scale mining remains the exclusive preserve of Ghanaians who hold licenses obtained from and signed by the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources. Foreigners, by law, are not allowed to be engaged in small scale mining in Ghana, whatsoever.

It is in the light of this that H.E. the President, constituted an Inter-Ministerial Task Force on 15th May, 2013 with a clear mandate to:

 

a. Seize all equipment used by those who fail to comply with the new directives of obtaining licenses or renewing their licenses.

b. Arrest and prosecute Ghanaians and non-Ghanaians involved in illegal small-scale mining.

c. Deport all non-Ghanaians involved in small-scale illegal mining.

d. Revoke the licenses of Ghanaians who have sub-leased their concessions to non-Ghanaians.

e. Revoke the licenses of Ghanaians who have illegally engaged the services of non-Ghanaian miners in the small-scale mining sector.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Inter-Ministerial Task Force started the operational phase of its activities on 1st June, 2013 covering the southern portion of the country to enforce its mandate. So far, it has arrested 1,568 foreigners and 51 Ghanaians. Forty (40) vehicles, 85 earth moving equipment and forty-nine (49) weapons have been seized. A total of 3,877 foreigners including those who voluntarily submitted themselves for repatriation have been deported.

I must also state that the resolve of the government to sanitize the small-scale mining sector is unwavering and the Inter-Ministerial Task Force is poised to pursue all violators of our mining laws.

It is important to note that the establishment of the Inter-Ministerial Task Force complements the activities of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources in its determination to bring sanity into natural resource exploitation in this country.

The Ministry has also reconstituted membership of the 5 existing Regional task forces to complement efforts by the National Security to deal with the illegal mining situation in the country. New members were brought on board to ensure efficiency. These task forces are operational in the Eastern, Greater Accra, Ashanti, Western and Central Regions. The Ministry is also collaborating with the Ministry of Interior and the Metropolitan/District Assemblies to deal with foreigners in illegal mining.

In addition to the efforts by the Regional Task Forces, Government is currently undertaking geological exploration of nine (9) areas totalling 500sq.km in various parts of the country to identify mineralised areas for small scale miners. One of these areas has already proved viable (i.e. Japa in the Western Region) and mineral concessions are being acquired by small scale miners. 

 

Implementation of Alternative Livelihood Projects in Mining Communities

To mitigate the socio-economic impacts of mining on host communities, the Ministry implemented Alternative Livelihood Programmes (ALP) in Mining Communities through the creation of non-mining jobs. A total of Twenty Three Thousand (23,000) acres of land have been planted with oil palm seedlings in the Prestea-Huni Valley District giving employment to twenty three thousand (23,000) people. The Ministry will continue to support ALP beneficiaries to ensure good yield of the oil palm. 

 

Based on the success of the Prestea Pilot Project, another 23,000 acres of oil palm plantation is being established in the Dunkwa-Ayanfuri Area of the Central Region. The objective is to generate employment, stem the tide of rural urban migration, reduce poverty and as well as reduce the menace of illegal mining in mining communities. So far about 6,800 acres of oil palm has been established under the Dunkwa-Ayanfuri project, which has also employed about 7,000 people directly.

 

Diversification of the Mineral Production Base 

In pursuance of Government’s priority of diversifying mineral production, base metals (lead, copper and zinc) occurrences in the Buem Formation of the Nkwanta areas of the Volta Region will be investigated. Subsequently, government purchased a Multi-Purpose Drilling Rig to assist the Geological Survey Department to further investigate and prove the potential of these newly discovered minerals. Additionally, the Drilling Rig will facilitate the firming up of the stratigraphy of the Voltaian Basin and also assist to strengthen the Department’s capacity to carry out other geological studies for effective land use planning.

 

Additionally, active prospecting is also underway on the Shieni and Oppon Mansi iron ore deposits to boost the establishment of an integrated Iron and Steel Industry in Ghana. 

 

Implementation of Action Plan of Multi Agency Mining Revenue Task Force

Ladies and gentlemen, to improve mining sector revenue collection, management, and transparency, fiscal Mine Models have been developed both on macro and micro levels. Also a Multi-Agency Revenue Task Force has been established to enhance cooperation and collaboration among Revenue Agencies and Minerals Commission and to apply mine fiscal models to operating mines. 

 

So far, Seven (7) mines have already been audited. These include: Newmont, Goldfields (Tarkwa and Wassa), Chirano, Ghana Manganese Company. Recommendations from the auditing so far, has informed changes in the fiscal regime for mining. 

 

Implement Guidelines on Social Responsibility Projects in Mining Communities

The Ministry is facilitating implementation of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) guidelines developed through extensive stakeholder collaboration. This is expected to reduce social conflicts and also to ensure that companies contribute to structured development in communities in which they operate. CSR reports for 2013 submitted by mining companies are being reviewed by the Ministry to ensure compliance with the guidelines.

 

Increase Local Content in the Mining Sector                             

Ladies and gentlemen, working together with the Chamber of Mines and other stakeholders (including the Association of Ghana Industries), the Ministry through the Minerals Commission has developed the First Edition of the Local Procurement List (2013) which comprises eight (8) goods/products which shall be procured in Ghana. The list includes; Grinding Media, Explosives, Cement and Cement Products, Electric Cables, Quick and Hydrated Lime, HDPE & PVC Pipes and General Lubricants.

 

In line with the recently passed Minerals and Mining (General) Regulations, LI2173 (which includes provisions on Local Content) and all mining companies are expected to submit their Localization Plans for Approval. Currently, Localization Plans of Newmont Gh. Gold (Ahafo), Golden Star Resources (Bogoso and Wassa),  Goldfields Gh Ltd (Tarkwa and Damang), Perseus Mining Gh. Ltd, Kinross (Chirano Mine), Adamus Resources Ltd have been approved. Additionally, Localization Plans of AngloGold and Newmont Golden Ridge Ltd (Akyem mine) are being reviewed for compliance before approval.  

 

GOLD REFINERY PROJECT 

Over the last few years, Ghana has been producing over 4 million ounces of gold per annum. However, only small scale refineries, refining gold produced by small scale miners mainly for the jewellery industry exists in the country. Efforts are being made to attract investment to establish a major gold refining facility in Ghana with the potential to serve other gold producing countries within the sub-region.  

 

Currently, PMMC has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Geo Professional Services Limited (A Russian Company) to construct a 70 tonnes per annum capacity gold refinery in Ghana. All the necessary permits for the construction of the refinery have been secured. Construction of the refinery is expected to be completed by the end of next year.

 

Additionally, PMMC has set up a diamond cutting and polishing plant which is first of its kind in the West African sub-region. The first phase of the project has been completed i.e. production of small diamonds up to 1 carat to feed the jewellery production Unit. The second phase, when completed will cut and polish larger stones above 1 carat.

 

Passage of Ghana Geological Survey (GGS) Bill

The Ministry is facilitating the passage of the Ghana Geological Survey (GGS) Bill to transform the Department into a semi-autonomous organization. 

 

Launching of Geological Survey Department Centenary Anniversary (1913-2013)

As a prelude to the celebration of a century contribution of the Geological Survey Department (1913-2013) to national development, the Ministry in conjunction with the Department successfully launched the Centenary Anniversary on 24th September, 2013. In attendance were the European GeoSurveys, Organization of African Geological Surveys (OAGS), and Geoscience Information in Africa (GIRAF) with assistance from AUSAID as well as the Ghana Institution of Geoscientists (GhIG) and the general public.

Management of Geological Disasters

To complement the efforts of the Geological Survey Department in providing seismic data to other organizations in managing geological disasters including earthquakes, the Government acquired and installed seismic equipment at the main Seismological Observatory (Accra) as well as the remote sites including: Weija, Ho, Akosombo and Morontuo (Lake Bosomtwe area) and Kukurantumi. Currently, seismic data from all the remote stations are transmitting real time through satellite transceivers to the main Seismological Observatory in Achimota, Accra.

 

The recorded seismic data will help to reduce the effects of future earthquakes through Seismic Hazard Assessment which forms the fundamental basis for land-use planning, building code formulation, design standards for critical structures and disaster mitigation strategies. The stand-alone strong motion accelerometers installed on lifeline structures such as electrical power facilities (Akosombo and Kpong Dams) and water supply and sewage treatment facilities (Weija Dam) are to determine the nature of earthquake ground motion and its impact on these structures for early precautionary measures to be taken.

 

Ghana’s Claim to Extended Continental Shelf

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, in order to sustain the protection of the nation’s land and maritime resources and ensure good neighbourliness between Ghana and her coastal neighbours, viz Nigeria, Benin, Togo, and Cote d’Ivoire, the Ministry will continue to coordinate the activities of the Ghana Boundary Commission.  

 

Negotiations have been ongoing with our coastal neighbours on maritime boundaries delimitation. So far, nine (9) meetings have been held on Ghana’s Western Maritime Boundary with Cote d’Ivoire, while on the Eastern Maritime Boundary delimitation, three (3) meetings have been held with Nigeria and plans are in place to recommence meetings with Togo and Benin before the end of the year. 

 

The Ghana Boundary Commission, in the pursuit of the delineation of the outer limits of the continental shelf of Ghana beyond the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) i.e. beyond 200 nautical miles (M), is in the process of concluding the defense of her claim to extended continental shelf boundary at the United Nations following a series of meetings with the Sub-commission established to examine her Submission. 

 

I am happy to mention that Ghana took her turn at the plenary of the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) in New York on the 10th of March, 2014 to affirm the recommendations of the Sub commission. We are now awaiting the United Nations’ final determination of Ghana’s claim in this respect.

 

WAY FORWARD

Mr. Chairman, to ensure that the mining sub-sector contributes fully to the sector goals and objectives, the Ministry would continue to provide the necessary platform for transparent engagement of all stakeholders in order to promote harmony in the mining sub-sector. 

 

The Ministry would continue to ensure that opportunities for increasing local content in the mining industry through capacity building of local entrepreneurs and job creation in mining areas are pursued. 

 

The Ministry will also ensure that small scale mining remains the preserve of Ghanaians in accordance with the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703). In this respect, the Ministry will continue to enforce the ban on registration and participation of foreign companies in small scale mining. 

Mr. Chairman, having exhausted my presentation about issues on the mining sub-sector, I wish to draw your attention now to the Forestry sub-sector.

 

FORESTRY SUB-SECTOR

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen, sustaining the integrity, resilience and productivity of Ghana’s forest reserves and wildlife protected areas continue to be a priority of this Ministry. Towards this end, the Ministry is pursuing programmes, projects and strategies that have enabled the sub- sector deliver effectively and efficiently. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Ministry implemented programmes to restore the nation’s degraded forest estate in order to increase the growing stock, reduce the current wood deficit situation, create employment in forest fringe communities, protect the forest estate from all forms of illegalities, and conserve wildlife resources in the protected areas. All these were pursued to contribute to a sustainable national development agenda. 

 

The Ministry embarked on various activities in the Forestry Sub-sector to manage the natural forest, plantations, wildlife and other ecosystems so as to maintain its integrity and ecological balance. 

Mr. Chairman, we would like to highlight some of our achievements during the period under review:

 

Restoration of the forest cover

Activities undertaken under the national plantation development programme are contributing to restore the ecological and productive status of our forest reserves as well as the off reserve areas. In 2013, a national annual plantations establishment target of 3,000 ha was approved for the reserved forest area. The Forestry Commission verified 2,835 ha as established, representing 95% of the target. This activity contributed to the creation of 2,167 jobs.

 

As a priority strategy, in 2014, the Commission continued the maintenance activities in 21,665 ha plantation area established between 2010 and 2013 using workers from the local communities. 

The Ministry is also undertaking enrichment planting with other tree species of economic importance within poorly stocked forest reserves. From 2011 to 2013, a total of 947 ha of the poorly stocked natural forests have been planted.  In 2014, 500 ha in six (6) FR compartments identified in selected reserves are being planted to enrich the stocking. 

Mr. Chairman, the 25-year National Forest Plantation Strategy drafted by the Commission for the national plantation development programme is being taken through a final stakeholder consultation process this year. This final engagement will lead to approval and implementation of the strategy. The strategy will enhance the Ministry’s commitment of engaging all stakeholders in re-vegetating degraded areas in all the nation’s ecological zones.

 

Mr. Chairman, the Ministry has supported the Forestry Commission to implement a number of sustainable forest management strategies. An example is the Commission reviewing of all Forest Reserves Management Plans to improve efficiency and integrated management of these reserves. 

 

Currently, thirty (30) Forest Reserves Management Plans have been reviewed and its approved prescription being implemented. In 2014, resources have been made available to selected District Forestry Offices to review additional thirty (30) old management plans.

 

Forest and Wildlife Law Enforcement

On Law Enforcement, Mr. Chairman, the Ministry is building the institutional framework of the Forestry Commission that will ensure a sustainable natural resources management and protect the forest reserves that are under intense encroachment.  

The forest and wildlife resources of the country have come under intense encroachment and destruction especially in forest reserve and wildlife protected areas. Illegal settlements, farming, poaching, mining and chainsaw operations are the key threats to these reserves. To this end, the Rapid Response Unit within the Commission was established to augment operations of the Military and Police Task Forces.  

Mr. Chairman, operations of the Rapid Response Unit have been encouraging and continued in the year. The Commission is strengthening the capacity of the Unit to deal with the menace of illegal logging, mining, farming and chainsawing in our forest reserves and wildlife protected areas in the country.  

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, the eight (8) Rapid Response Teams were engaged in combating illegal activities in the forest and wildlife protected areas. Additionally, some of the specially trained 100 Forest Guards of the Commission were enrolled into the Rapid Response Unit. The number of the teams has therefore risen from 8 to 14. The additional six (6) teams have been deployed to combat illegalities in the threatened forest reserves and wildlife protected areas.  

 

Mr. Chairman, the Commission is compiling detailed statistics of the operations of the fourteen (14) teams.  The impact of these teams in reducing the illegalities will be made available to the nation. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, on the Prosecution Mandate of the Forestry Commission, the Legal Unit has made logistics available for the 28 Forest and Wildlife Public Prosecutors to undertake a one year pupillage in prosecuting forest offences which were hitherto handled by the police.  This strategic policy is enabling the Commission to effectively carry out its prosecution mandate.

2012 Forest and Wildlife Policy

Mr. Chairman, one major achievement of the Ministry was the review of the 1994 Forest and Wildlife Policy.  The decision to review the Policy was triggered by a number of challenges including high levels of deforestation and forest degradation largely due to man-made factors such as annual wildfires, slash and burn agriculture, illegal chainsaw and “galamsey” activities, as well as excessive logging.  

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, the revised Forest and Wildlife Policy that was approved by Cabinet for implementation took on board current national and global concerns as well as development trends. The new policy shifts from consumptive to non-consumptive use of the forests. This means, focus has shifted from timberization to biodiversity conservation and ecotourism development. Reforestation and landscape restoration is a major focus of the policy.  There is also a renewed emphasis on collaborative forest and wildlife resources management in the country.  

Mr. Chairman, the national launch of this new policy took place successfully in Accra. To ensure that the policy is widely disseminated country wide, the Ministry conducted three (3) additional regional launches in Kumasi, Tamale and Koforidua.

Domestic Market Wood Policy

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen, with the dwindling timber stock in the country in both On and Off forest reserve areas, the Ministry has put various measures in place to ensure adequate supply of legal wood to the domestic market.  The Domestic Market Policy has therefore been developed to ensure adequate supply of legal lumber.

 

The Domestic Market Wood Policy has three (3) components, namely: (1) the Artisanal Milling Concept, which will enable artisanal millers gain access to legal timber solely to supply the domestic market; (2) The Public Procurement Policy, which will ensure that only legally produced lumber is used in any government development projects; and (3) Standardization of wood products processed for the domestic market. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Domestic Market Policy was submitted to Cabinet to review the draft policy for their comments. Cabinet has directed the Ministry to seek further consultations with key institutions such as GREDA and AESL before administrative approval of the policy for implementation.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, one key policy strategy that will support the Domestic Market Policy is the importation of logs and lumber from other tropical timber producing countries.  In this regard, the Forestry Commission in collaboration with the Domestic Lumber Traders Association of Ghana has initiated discussions with the Ministry of Trade and Industry on tax relief on the import of logs and lumber.

Improved Efficiency in Timber Trade and Revenue Collection 

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Ministry has put in place a technological application that facilitates transactions in timber trading in the country. The processing and approval of export contracts that is basically done manually, has been changed by the Forestry Commission with the introduction of the E-contract web based application.  

 

The “E-contract” is currently used by contractual parties to facilitate the buying and selling of wood and wood products.  The introduction of this web application provides a common platform for communication between buyers and sellers. 

Mr. Chairman, the Ministry has listened to the concerns of timber exporters in the industry and taken appropriate measures using the GCNet application to address their challenges. The Commission, which is mandated to issue timber export license has over the years gone through a manual and rigorous system of vetting at different stages before finally approving and issuing permits to timber exporters. 

 

To address these challenges, the Ministry has introduced a seamless electronic system using cutting edge technology that links all trade operators, revenue agencies, and regulatory bodies through a "Single Window” system. The Ministry has therefore, effective June 2014, stopped the issuance of manual permits to applicants, timber exporters and their agents. 

 

Wood Tracking System

Mr. Chairman, the Ministry is progressing steadily in developing the Wood Tracking System to develop the timber industry and improve trade.  The Forestry Commission is finalizing modalities for the issuance of FLEGT license to ensure that only legal timber is supplied to both the European Union and domestic markets. 

The European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR) No.995/2010, which seeks to restrict access of illegal timber to the Union came into force in March, 2013.  With this regulation, buyers or operators in the European Union are now exercising due diligence to ensure that no illegally sourced timber enters their timber supply chain.  The pressure is therefore on exporters to ensure that they have credible documentation to prove that their consignments do not contain any material that will compromise the integrity of the EU buyers.  

 

FLEGT licensed timber, which is the expected output of the Legality Assurance System currently being developed, shall meet the requirements of the EUTR.  The systems that will deliver the FLEGT licenses are now being rolled out to the timber producers and the Forestry Offices across the country.  Ghana therefore anticipates that the FLEGT license will be ready for issuance by the middle of 2015.  There is therefore the challenge of sustaining Ghana's access to the European Union timber market between now and when the legality licenses can be issued.

 

Ecotourism Development Initiatives

Ladies and Gentlemen, reducing the loss of forest and wildlife biodiversity is a key intervention of the Ministry. Over the years, we incrementally continue to implement strategies that will attract investors to the Commission’s ecotourism development initiatives. In order to provide attractive recreational centres with increasing visitations, we continued to embark on some public private partnership arrangements as follows:

 

In Kakum National Park, two (2) companies signed agreement with the Forestry Commission to upgrade facilities that will raise its status and attract more visitors. Black Star Eco-City Limited initiated the fabrication works for twenty (20) pre-fabricated executive lodges. The Land Tours and Travel Company Limited is developing a twenty-four (24) bed tented camp accommodation. 

 

Ecolodge Company Ghana has completed about 80% of the works of putting up 25 luxury-tented camps in Mole National Park.

 

In the Shai Hills Resource Reserve, Leadership for Conservation in Africa has completed the construction of three (3) double-bed luxury-tented camps. Extension of electricity by Eco-Lodges Ghana Limited is progressing.

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen, the proposal to develop the Achimota forest reserve into Accra Eco-Park is on course and has received attention at all levels of consultation.

 

The six-member Accra Eco-Park Strategy Development Committee was mandated by the sector minister in 2013 to develop a road-map and modalities for the development of the Achimota Forest into a major ecotourism destination to be known as the Accra Eco-Park.  

The Strategy Development Committee completed the task and submitted the final report with a strategic business plan to the sector minister for the implementation of the Accra Eco-Park. The final report submitted to Cabinet for executive approval has been ratified.

 

Strategic and Management Plan for the Park has been developed. Advert for Lead Consultants publicized in the dailies and proposal submitted by interested firms are being evaluated. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, to secure the boundaries of the forest (Accra Eco-Park), sign posts were erected and construction of the main entrance completed. In addition, 24-hour surveillance by a Rapid Response Team is on-going, which has reduced encroachment of the reserve.

 

Local Community Managed Forest and Wildlife Resources In Promoting Biodiversity Conservation

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, the role of local community managed forest and wildlife resources in promoting biodiversity conservation initiatives as a way of reducing pressure on protected areas were tackled using different strategies.  

The Commission’s collaborative wildlife management programme continued to promote collaboration and harmonization of biodiversity related agreements within local communities. 

The primary institutional mechanisms adopted by the Commission in implementing collaborative wildlife management both in and outside protected areas are the Protected Areas Management Advisory Boards (PAMAB) and the Community Resource Management Areas (CREMA) approach.  

 

The CREMA constitutes the key wildlife management system in areas outside of protected areas.  As at the end of 2013, nineteen (19) CREMAs had been certified for devolution of management responsibility and authority for natural resource management. 

Mr. Chairman, it will interest you to know that establishment of seventeen (17) more CREMAs have reached various stages in the process. 

 

CLIMATE CHANGE: Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation Plus (REDD+)

Mr. Chairman, Climate Change Adaptation activities continue to be a priority of this Ministry. To this end, public education and awareness creation on the impact of climate change on local communities to enable them adapt to the impact and reduce vulnerability to climate change is on-going.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Ministry through the Forestry Commission continues to implement the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation Plus (REDD+) and Readiness Plan under the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility of the World Bank. The plan will ensure Ghana has the management arrangements, systems and requisite processes in place to implement the REDD+ processes.  

 

A Communication Strategy on Ghana’s REDD+ programmes and activities was finalized and approved for implementation.  To create awareness of the programme, four (4) roadshows were undertaken in Damongo in the Northern Region, Hohoe (Volta Region), Dormaa Ahenkro (Brong Ahafo Region) and Tarkwa in the Western Region. 

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, the US$40 million facility under the Climate Investment Fund approved for the implementation of Ghana’s Forest Investment Programme (FIP) aims at eliminating the causes of deforestation and forest degradation and overcome obstacles that have prevented this so far. 

 

The projects under the FIP will help reduce forest loss and land degradation and contribute to sustainable livelihoods through participatory planning, improved practices and incentives in selected landscape corridors in Ghana’s High Forest Zone.

Mr. Chairman, we wish to inform you that Ghana has been selected by the Carbon Fund of the Forest Carbon Partnership of the World Bank after successfully submitting its Emission Reduction Programme Idea Note.  The programme seeks to reduce emission driven by expansionist (extensive) cocoa land use practices, and in doing so reduce pressure on the nation’s forest estate while significantly improving the livelihood of more than 800,000 cocoa farmers and their families by improving cocoa yields using the climate smart cocoa beans.

 

In working to achieve this goal, the programme will address other drivers of degradation and deforestation that are influencing the programme’s landscape and can benefit from cross-sectoral, public-private engagement that the programme will align. 

Timber Stumpage Fee Review

Mr. Chairman, there have been reports and comments on the nation losing forest-based revenue due to the impracticability of the Forestry Commission to carry out regular review of timber stumpage fees.  In conformity with the Timber Resources Management Regulations, 1998 (LI 1649), as amended by the Timber Resources Management (Amendment) Regulations, 2004 (LI 1721), the Commission has revised the Stumpage Fees for the harvesting of naturally growing timber species effective March 2014.

 

Mr. Chairman, though the legal provision calls for the periodic review of forest fees, the Ministry has strategically looked at the economics of doing business in the industry instead of the legality basis of revenue mobilization through regular stumpage fee review.  

WAY FORWARD

Mr. Chairman, the Forestry Commission participated actively in reviewing the programmes and activities of the forestry sub-sector within the context of the second Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda (GSGDA 2014-2017).

With the approval of the 2014-2017 MTEF budget, which is programme based, the Commission reviewed its corporate strategic and monitoring and evaluation plans to meet the corporate strategic imperatives.  

From 2014, the Commission focused on the following programme areas that efficiently and effectively met its service and operational priorities: 

• Human capital development – training and refresher programmes

• Sustainable forest management and plantation development

• Protection and sustainable utilization of wildlife resources

• Timber industry, trade development and technology transfer

• Planning and standards development

 

The other areas the Commission focused on are:

• Coordinating and facilitating forest and wildlife development and management

• Seeking Cabinet approval of the Forest and Wildlife Bill to strengthen the regulatory regime for wildlife management in Ghana 

• Completing processes towards the importation of logs/lumber to reduce the high pressure on Ghana’s forest. Tax exemption is required from Cabinet to enable the private sector to import lumber.

• Keeping to the road map for the implementation of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement.

• Facilitating the implementation of the Accra ECO-PARK project.

• Undertaking forest plantation development activities 

 

These programme areas cover the mandates of the Commission’s Divisions, Departments and Units. 

 

LANDS SUB-SECTOR

 

Mr. Chairman, the following sections enumerate some key achievements and strategies being implemented by the Ministry to establish a functioning land administration system to address the current challenges within the land sector.

Ladies and gentlemen, to provide quality, reliable and efficient land services delivery, the Ministry is undertaking a number of initiatives including the strengthening of the legislative framework for land administration, strengthening customary land administration, decentralizing and improving business and land service delivery processes, developing maps and spatial data for land administration, and revenue mobilization.

 

Strengthening Policy, Legal and Regulatory Framework for Land Administration

 Mr. Chairman, to strengthen the legal and regulatory framework for an efficient land administration in Ghana, the Ministry is working to complete a Land Use and Spatial Planning Bill. A draft of the Land Use and Spatial Planning Bill have been reviewed by the Ministry and forwarded to Cabinet for approval. When enacted, the Act will facilitate and regulate spatial planning in the country. 

The Act is expected to streamline land use planning and development control, and also promote citizen participation in the planning and management of human settlement. This will happen within the established decentralisation policy of the country. 

The ultimate goal of this Act is to ensure an orderly development of human settlement, coordinated delivery of infrastructure, as well as introduce transparency in the development and permitting regime.

Decentralization and Improving Business and Service Delivery Processes

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, to remove duplications in the registration processes, the Lands Commission developed a Blue Print to streamline all its business processes. The implementation of the framework started in 2014 to ensure a standardized decentralized procedure for all land registrations across the country. 

 

The blue print is being implemented through the establishment of Customer Service and Access Units (CSAUs) in selected Regions and Districts. For the first phase, the following Regional and District offices have been selected for piloting of the CSAUs, namely; Wa, Bolgatanga, Tamale, Sekondi, Koforidua, Accra, Tarkwa, Winneba, Savelugu, and Goaso. Work is almost complete in most of these areas. It is expected that the CSAUs will be fully operationalized in October this year. When implemented, the bottlenecks in acquiring land titles and deeds will be minimised thereby reducing the period for registration tremendously. 

The Ministry has also completed the construction of an ultra-modern office building for the Upper West Regional office in Wa. All the land sector agencies in the region now work under one umbrella.

 

Digitization of Land Records

In order to facilitate easy access to information on land registration, the Ministry has put in place measures to digitize and store records electronically in the Lands Commission. These include conversion of manual records into digital formats to ensure security of land documents. In view of this, the Commission has established a scanning bay which is currently scanning and storing land information electronically. This is ongoing in the Regional offices as well. 

 

The Ministry is also developing a comprehensive Land Information Systems for the Lands Commission. This will go a long way to improve land administration in Ghana.

Improved Maps and Spatial Data for Land Administration

 

The Ministry is developing three (3) key policies with the overall objective of developing a sustainable integrated geo-spatial infrastructure framework for Ghana. These policies would provide for the regulating, development, sharing and coordinating of all spatial products generated in the country. Mr. Chairman these policies are; Survey and Mapping Policy, Geodetic Reference Network (GRN) Policy, and a National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) Policy. These policies are currently awaiting cabinet’s approval for implementation. 

 

The Survey and Mapping Policy will define the modalities for undertaking mapping in the country. This will ensure periodic update of maps for developmental projects in Ghana

The GRN policy would be used to control the GRN monuments, by establishing a network of Continuous Operating Receiving Stations (CORS) nationwide. Forty-two (42) CORS would be established by end of 2014. This will help produce quality and cheaper cadastral plans for the registration of land.

 

The NSDI policy will facilitate data sharing among public sector institutions and even the private sector. This system will save time and cost in the preparation of spatial products by the respective agencies and the country as a whole.

Mr. Chairman, the Ministry is also generating base maps of the country through aerial photography. A total area of 13,000 sq. Km, and 12,000 sq. km have been captured in the Northern and Southern sectors respectively through Arial photography. The Lands Commission is currently processing the authophoto maps from the resultant data captured. These maps would serve as inputs in developing a number of spatial activities in the country including, the development of guide maps to improve tourism, the Street Naming Address, and also provide effective inputs into land-use physical planning schemes in the country. 

 

An additional 4000sq. km has also been covered in the Nasia Nabogu Valley. This will be used by the Ghana Consolidated Agricultural Project (GCAP) to facilitate the design of irrigation systems for selected pilot areas. 

 

Improvement in Revenue Mobilization from Government lands

The Lands Commission in an effort to improve revenue generation from Public lands has embarked on a vigorous door-to-door distribution of ground rent Demand Notices. This is to proactively pursue lessees who are indebted to the State in the form of Ground rent. The result has been a dramatic improvement in revenue mobilization. As at the first quarter of the year, an amount of over GH₵2.5 million had been generated representing 77% increase over the amount for the same period last year.  

Clearing of Backlog of Land Applications in Greater Accra

 

To clear the backlog of land registration applications, the Commission carried out an exercise to clear all outstanding applications. At the end of the first phase of the exercise, over 20,000 files were retrieved and is being worked on. So far, 701 Land Title Certificates have been issued spanning the period of 1988 and 2010.   

 

Revaluation of Properties

Mr. Chairman, the Ministry is currently facilitating revaluation of properties in selected districts to improve revenue from property rates in the country. Ten (10) Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) have been selected for the first phase of the exercise. Tamale, Ga Central and Efutu Senya West are to benefit from the first batch of the revaluation exercise. 

 

Improving Customary Land Administration

Ladies and Gentlemen, one of the key objectives of the Land Administration Project (LAP) is to bring about a more efficient and decentralized land administration system operating throughout Ghana in accordance with Government policy and compatible with cultural norms and practices and responsive to the needs of the people, within a self-sustaining financing mechanism. 

As part of measures to bring this objective to reality, the first phase of LAP established 37 Customary Land Secretariats (CLSs) to provide land service delivery at the grassroots.

 

Mr. Chairman, I am pleased to inform you that, 19 more Customary Land Secretariats have been established under the 2nd phase of the Land Administration Project to help improve upon land administration at the customary level. This brings the total number of CLSs in the country to 56. 

The Ministry has also earmarked other potential areas for the establishment of more customary Land Secretariats by the close of 2015. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, as you are aware, Customary Land Secretariats are specialized offices established by land owning communities with support of Government to improve land management and administration in the country.

 

Mr. Chairman, the basic functions of the CLSs include the following; keeping and maintaining accurate and up to date records of land dealings in the locality, providing information about the land owning community to the public, receiving all correspondence on behalf of the Land Management Committee and serving as a link between the land owning community and other stakeholders.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, in addition, CLSs serve as a link between the land owning community and the public sector land agencies and prepare accounts of all income and expenditure on local land transactions. They also prepare periodic reports on all activities of the secretariat and keep records of all fees and charges associated with land grants.

Mr. Chairman, CLSs will continue to be equipped to solve dispute on land via Alternative Dispute Resolution and trained to be a data base of document relating to the community’s ownership of land.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, CLSs keep copies of layouts and planning schemes prepared for any portion of the communities’ land and registered documents such as records of leases and assignments 

Mr. Chairman, studies conducted so far revealed that, some CLSs are contributing to the provision of accurate land information at the customary level that can be accessed by the local community and the public. Some CLSs have also helped to clarify ownership and land use rights and minimized land related disputes and conflicts. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, although a few CLSs are struggling to provide the services listed above, there is ample evidence that some CLSs are promoting peaceful development of local communities and helping to promote economic development within communities.

 

Mr. Chairman, some CLSs such as the Gbawe Kwatei CLS and the Asantehene’s Land Secretariat have facilitated greater awareness of land rights and responsibilities among the vulnerable especially women, very poor landless families and tenants. Others such as the Fieve CLS at Sogakope and Benyin have facilitated greater accountability in the use of land revenue and resources.

WAY FORWARD

Mr. Chairman, the Ministry will continuously focus its attention to deliver efficient and effective land administration services. Its commitment to undertake deeds and title registration, valuation of assets for all purposes, survey and mapping of land for developmental purposes as well as the management of public and vested land remains paramount for national development. The Ministry is determined to deliver its mandate to ultimately offer an effective and efficient land administration in Ghana. 

 

CONCLUSION

Mr. Chairman, the Ministry has made significant progress in achieving its objectives and targets set in the implementation of its policies, programmes and projects within the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda and the President’s Priority Deliverable Areas. We would continue to ensure effective and efficient land and natural resources management for accelerated development for a Better Ghana. 

Thank You for Your Attention