ASCIR hosts Forum on Socio-Environmental Implications of Ghana-China Relations

The Afro-Sino Centre of International Relations (ASCIR) as part of its objective to engage stakeholders in Afro-Sino relations has hosted a virtual forum.

The forum, led by Dr. Joseph Onjala, a Senior Research Fellow of the Centre, brought together resource persons to discuss issues pertaining to Chinese migrants’ involvement in illegal mining activities in Ghana and to assess the impact of these activities on land and water bodies.

Dr. Onjala who was also a panellist in the first session gave a general overview of Chinese engagements on the continent and the impact on the environment.

He noted that with the increasing involvement of China in development on the continent, negative environmental implications are inevitable, but measures could be taken to mitigate the Chinese environmental footprint on the continent. He said that urgency on the part of African governments and stakeholders as well as from their Chinese counterparts is pivotal in finding sustainable measures to safeguard the environment.

Also speaking at the forum, Dr. Clifford Braimah, the Managing Director of Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) mentioned the drastic impact of illegal and small-scale mining on the treatment and distribution of water in Ghana.

Dr. Braimah also bemoaned the high cost of water treatment and the simultaneous dependence on both surface and underground water in the country. Dr. Braimah used the platform to call on interested parties such as investors and other partners to support GWCL to deliver clean and safe water to Ghanaians.

He noted that though Ghanaians are complicit in the destruction of water bodies through mining and other activities, the introduction of heavy equipment in illegal mining activities was mostly done by Chinese migrants and it has exacerbated the problem.

He, therefore, appealed to Chinese authorities to support the efforts of his team and other agencies in the country to protect water bodies.

The second session was moderated by Ms. Mandira Bagwandeen, a Research Fellow at the Centre. Her panellists were Dr. Maxwell Acheampong from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology Migration Studies Department, Mr. Pius Babuna, a PhD candidate at Beijing Normal University and Research Associate at the Centre as well as Mr. Arhin Acheampong, Deputy Director of ASCIR, an international security and development professional.

Mr. Babuna discussed his research findings and suggested ways the government could curb the illegal mining menace. Among his recommendations were calls for regulations and jobs for the youth.

Mr. Acheampong who assessed Operations Vanguard and Halt which are joint police and military task force set up to fight illegal mining in Ghana, noted that, with the massive support these operations received from the citizenry and the arms of government, better results were expected from the exercise. He identified political interference and lack of strategy in dealing with both Chinese and local kingpins as a major cause of Operation Vanguard’s failure to achieve groundbreaking results.

Dr. Acheampong on the other hand, focused on the role of Chinese migration in illegal mining activities and the subsequent devastation of land and water bodies. He lamented the porous nature of the country’s land borders and called for the retooling of security agencies involved in border protection and immigration.

In his closing remarks, the Board Chair thanked the panellists and moderators for the spectacular performance and added that, “it is indeed heartwarming to see the groundbreaking work the Centre is doing across the continent.”

He expressed the board’s delight with the team and pledged their continuous support to the organization

The Centre will be hosting similar fora and hopes to engage more stakeholders as they discuss Afro-Sino engagements in the areas of economy, environment, and education/culture. The next event is expected to take place in September this year.

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