Towards Optimal Expoitation of Salt in Ghana

Ghana has the best endowment for and is the biggest producer of solar salt in West Africa. The bulk of the production and export comes from artisanal and small scale (ASM) producers. Third World Network Africa (TWN-Af) presents a research report "Towards Optimal Expoitation of Salt from the Keta Lagoon Basin in Ghana" based on struggles between a large scale salt company and some communities around the Keta Lagoon in Ghana. At the centre of the conflict is the disruption of the livelihoods of the communities by the award of a concession to a foreign investor for large scale salt production, an act which has expropriated what the communities see as the commons around the lagoon where for generations they have carried out livelihood activities which combine fishing, farming and salt production.

The Keta Lagoon is the second most important salt producing area in Ghana and the conflict, in which Police protecting the company have shot some locals dead, is emblematic of the wider problem of the status of ASM across Africa with many governments even when faced with the huge potential of ASM avoid offering support to these predominantly local entrepreneurs and reflexively choose to support large scale, usually foreign, investors. Historically, minerals like salt have been of little interest to these investors. What is happening around the Keta Lagoon underlines the fact that more and more minerals are attracting the interest of large scale investors with the prospect of increased dispossession of rural communities and ASM producers.

The ASM sector is an important source of livelihoods for millions of people across Africa. It employs more than the dominant large-scale mining sector and most of the value it creates is retained in national economies unlike that from the large scale sector. It is however, the ugly duckling of African mining, marginalised and discriminated against by African states with its impacts highlighted and prospects understated. The Africa Mining Vision agenda offers strong support for the ASM sector and enjoins African governments to treat it with no less attention than is currently given to the large scale sector. The attainment of that vision will require much more attention and support for the ASM sector than is currently the case in mineral policy advocacy in Africa.

Read the report Towards Optimal Expoitation of Salt from the Keta Lagoon Basin in Ghana.

Source: Third World Network Africa.