A five-year training programme to build the innovative and entrepreneurial capacities of 10,000 young people in mining communities across the country is laudable.
Dubbed, Entrepreneurship Jobs for All Programme and christened “E-Jobs4All”, it is one of the modules under the National Alternative Employment and Livelihood Programme (NAELP) being implemented by the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources.
What is significant about the programme is that it forms part of the government’s initiative to provide decent jobs for the youth who either reside or hail from the mining regions of the country.
A critical aspect of it is that it is designed to equip the beneficiaries with tools, skills, and insights necessary to carve, shape, and transform ideas into profitable ventures.
This dovetails into an objective of the whole programme that we deem as the over-riding one – the objective to cultivate a mindset of innovation and entrepreneurship in the people.
Our inner-most joy about the programme is that it is being implemented in mining communities because we expect that at the end of it all, it will help reduce illegal mining and hopefully eradicate it.
We know like licensed mining, illegal mining, commonly described as galamsey, brings financial rewards to the operators but its devastation makes it an evil venture in our country.
Currently, there is a war waged against galamsey by the government because among other ills, it pollutes and destroys water bodies, and degrades the environment in all its shape and form, including deforestation.
In spite of the war on galamsey, people in the mining communities and even those from elsewhere continue to undertake the illegal venture.
Obeng Belinda Faamaa, Asare Kwabena Evans, and Mandela Osei-Assibey Bonsu of Jiangsu University, Zhenjiang, China have undertaken a study titled ‘Assessing the Factors Influencing Illegal Mining Operations: Evidence From Ghana’.
The study, published in the International Journal of Economics, Commerce and Management, United Kingdom, Vol. VIII, Issue 11 in November 2020, identified some factors influencing participation in illegal mining in Ghana, namely poverty, illiteracy rate, unemployment, high dependency rate, and mining mismanagement.
If this is anything to go by, then we believe unemployment is the most serious culprit because as the saying goes, the devil finds work for idle hands.
Other studies on illegal mining regarding those involved mention statistics like over 53 per cent of the participants being illiterate or having attained up to just junior high school education, with just four per cent being tertiary education products.
This means almost 96 per cent of the operators in illegal mining are people who lack knowledge and skills that can easily make them see any alternative source of making it in life should they abandon galamsey.
Other findings say 72.7 per cent of the participants are males and the rest women.
In Ghana, women without any skills can, at least, do petty trading but by their cultural orientation, males see petty trading as feminine and so would like to be involved in masculine undertakings even if it is illegal mining in spite of the national abhorrence against it.
We therefore support the move by the government to provide decent jobs in the mining communities.
We want to suggest that since people of almost all age categories are involved in galamsey, something else must be planned for the others in addition to that being done for the youth.