The first ECOWAS Mining and Petroleum forum and Exhibition (ECOMOF 2015) opened in Accra today.
The three-day forum, organised by the Ministries of Lands and Natural Resources and Petroleum, under the auspices of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), is on the theme, "Valorising West Africa's Mineral and Petroleum Resources through Regional Cooperation."
The forum is expected to, among other things, promote the development of potential member states, harmonise the legal, regulatory and taxation instruments for the extractive sector within the region and facilitate the socio-economic integration of the West African sub-region.
In a speech read on his behalf, President John Dramani Mahama, said Africa was a leading producer of key mineral resources, therefore those resources should propel mineral producing countries into accelerated broad-based economies.
He said in 2009, African Heads of States approved the Africa Mining Vision (AMV) to ensure transparent, equitable and optimal exploitation of mineral resources.
That vision, he said, sought to shift mineral policies on the continent beyond the narrow focus on just extracting minerals and sharing the revenues to that which would lead to a structural transformation of Africa's economies through an industrialization strategy anchored on minerals and other natural resources.
President Mahama noted that all countries in the sub-region were pursuing initiatives to enhance a holistic contribution to the mining sector to their economies, adding that Ghana, in that regard, was working closely with the African Mineral Development Centre (AMDC) to indigenize the AMV through a Country Mining Vision (CMV).
He called on ECOWAS Member States to take opportunity of the many policies and laws governing the oil and gas sector worldwide to guide them manage their resources well.
He said countries within the sub-region, dependent on minerals and hydrocarbons could not leverage their mineral potentials, if they did not adopt the key elements of good governance,
In his remarks, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, said the efficient development of major mineral resources in the West Africa could lead to economic boom in the region and increase industrialization, while, at same time, creating jobs to alleviate poverty.
He was optimistic that the first edition of ECOMOF 2015, hosted by Ghana, would be a landmark event and would assist ECOWAS to deliver on its mandate.
The Commissioner for Trade and Industry, African Union Commission, Mrs Fatima Haram Acyl, said the African Union (AU) was in the process of mapping all natural resources in the land and sea to give member states a stronger bargaining power, adding, however, that all African states needed to collaborate to get the best out of their resources.
In a welcome address, the Minister for Petroleum, Mr Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah, urged member countries to provide a regional infrastructure and industrial development plans, aimed at optimising value from the exploitation of the region's mineral and petroleum products.
According to Mr Buah, the continuous exportation of unprocessed mineral resources to markets abroad was denying citizens the opportunity of capturing the enormous value associated with the entire value chain of natural resources.
Decent jobs, he noted, were created in foreign lands while the population in mineral-producing countries wallowed in rising unemployment-- a phenomenon that was becoming a security threat.
Source: ISD (Sule N. Jotie and G.D. Zaney)