Spotlight on Ghana

By Eric Assamoah

One of the foremost countries in Africa, with a fantastic football team, great beaches and wonderful food, Ghana is one of the most preeminent mining countries in West Africa.

The first African nation to derive independence from Great Britain, Ghana has long been one of Africa’s hotbeds of mining, traditionally producing aluminium from its bauxite mines as well as gold, manganese ore and diamonds.

The Ashanti people had controlled much of the territory of Ghana before the Europeans arrived and were often in conflict with them. In the 21st century they continue to constitute the largest ethnic community in Ghana. Four wars, the Anglo-Ashanti wars were fought between the Ashanti (Asante) and the British, who were sometimes allied with the Fante.

Originally named the ‘Gold Coast’ by early Portuguese settlers, then renamed the British Gold Coast, Ghana gained independence from British colonial rule on 6 March 1957 under Prime Minister and President Kwame Nkrumah.

Ghana’s flag consisting of the colours red, gold, green, and a black star in the middle, became the new flag in 1957 when the Gold Coast was renamed Ghana post-independence. It was designed by Theodosia Salome Okoh; the red represents the blood that was shed towards independence, the gold represents the mineral wealth of Ghana, the green represents the rich land, and the black star is seen as the symbol of the Ghanaian people and African liberation.

Post-independence, Nkrumah was feted as a leader who was a visionary and had dreams of ‘Pan-Africanism’ and wished to create a sort of ‘United States of Africa’ model. One of the other key tenets of Pan-Africanism was the need for self-reliance and unity as a nation. This was especially so after the years of British and European rule. To this end, he wanted to utilise the energy and power of the various dams that had been constructed in Ghana to derive hydro-electric power. The country’s derivation of aluminium was also key to Nkrumah’s plan so bauxite production was ramped up even further.

Today, Ghana’s mining industry accounts for 5% of the country’s GDP and minerals make up 37% of total exports, of which gold contributes over 90% of the total mineral exports. To this end, the main focus of Ghana’s mining and minerals development industry remains focused on gold. Ghana is Africa’s largest gold producer, producing 80.5 tonnes in 2008 alone.

Ghana has 23 large-scale mining companies producing gold, diamonds, bauxite and manganese, and, there are also over 300 registered small scale mining groups and 90 mine support service companies