Mining-sector reforms in Ghana: Institutionalizing and Legitimizing Large-Scale Land Deals and Acquisitions in Rural Communities of Western Ghana

Seminar date: 
02 September 2010
Speaker(s): Dr. William Tsuma

William Tsuma was born in Kenya and did his Masters in Development Studies (with distinction) at the ISS, The Hague, The Netherlands, in 2004. In October 2009 he was awarded a PhD in Development Studies (magna cum laude) at the Centre for Development Research (ZEF) in Bonn, Germany for his thesis entitled 'Gold Mining in Ghana. Actors, Alliances and Power'. He is currently working at ZEF as a junior researcher and in Nairobi, Kenya, and as a regional coordinator at the Resource Based Conflict Management Network, a civil-society membership network in the Horn of Africa and in East Africa. His areas of interest are: climate change, conflict prevention, fragile states, natural resource management, resource curse debates and social science theory.

This seminar has been organized together with the Department of Cultural Anthropology and Developmental Sociology, Leiden University. It is initiated and will be chaired by Dr Sabine Luning.

Discussant: Jan-Bart Gewald

The gold mining sub-sector is important to the Ghanaian economy and has played a significant role in the country's socio-economic development since the colonial period. At a national level, gold accounts for 95% of the total minerals exported from Ghana, contributing 40% of the government's foreign-exchange revenues. Over the past three decades, gold production has increased drastically, a factor linked to the legal reforms that led to the growth in investor confidence and hence the rapid influx of foreign mining multinational companies. The mining boom that followed ushered Ghana into the elite group of world gold-producing countries, while at the local level, it destroyed the rural livelihoods of communities that depended on land for food production and income generation. Large-scale acquisition of land remains a key threat to food security and livelihoods safety in most mining areas in the country. Studies have mainly focused on assessing the socio-ecological impact of mining in these areas but researchers have largely shied away from the more political and sensitive aspects of how these land deals and acquisitions are negotiated, legitimized and institutionalized. This seminar attempts to unravel the hidden power-spaces that underpin these land deals and provides some plausible arguments as to how they are legitimized. Borrowing heavily from three years of PhD research in Tarkwa, I will discuss the pre- and post-independent reform processes, examining the key turning points that currently determine decision making concerning land resources in Western Ghana.

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