Ghanaian President calls for CSR guidelines

Monday, 10 March, 2014

A good piece here from Graphic Online, a Ghanaian internet newspaper. On Friday, Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama addressed a seminar on “Responsible mineral development initiatives” organised as part of the state visit of Guinean President Alpha Condé. There, he told mining companies operating in Ghana not to use CSR “just to gain public applause;”  instead, he stipulated that guidelines must be established for CSR to ensure that efforts and resources go towards meeting communities’ critical needs. Good idea!

“[CSR]  should not be populism,” he said. “In some cases it is just done to show a certain sense of care but is not deep enough and so we must establish guidelines for corporate social responsibility so it really takes care of the critical needs and not something that is just done to be printed in brochures”.

Some highlights from his speech:

“Today, the philosophy of corporate social responsibility has caught on, and many mining companies realise that you cannot live in isolation from the communities that surround you. And so we are seeing developments in which mining companies and other extractive industries are investing in the communities around them.


“Either they are building schools for the communities or building clinics and other facilities for the communities or opening up roads and I think that is an important development and needs to be encouraged.


““Africa must exert more control over its natural resources and its resources must benefit the people of the economies that own it. It is a mutual partnership that we allow foreign investors to bring in capital but it must be a partnership that benefits both the investor and the local communities that own the resources.”

Of course, taken as an outline of policy some of these statements would raise as many questions as they answer. At CSR21, for example, we moan frequently about the short-sightedness of building clinics and schools without ensuring the resources and capacity to staff and supply them. But Mahama wasn’t outlining policy, he was putting his weight behind the notion that extractives’ CSR efforts should be well thought out, well planned, and motivated by a real understanding of the needs of beneficiary communities. That, we happily endorse.

He also tried to clarify a statement he had previously made at Davos, Switzerland on windfall taxes, when he complained that mining companies were blackmailing the government with threats of mass layoffs in order to prevent them from implementing a planned windfall tax. (We reported the withdrawal of the tax back at the end of January).  Mahama said that what he  had meant was, as Graphic Online parap[hrases: “that mining companies must exist in mutual partnership with Ghana, so the two could assist each other.”