Home » Ghana’s Ex-Chief Justice Blasts Colonial-Style Lithium Deal

Ghana’s Ex-Chief Justice Blasts Colonial-Style Lithium Deal

Former Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo suggests alternative models for optimal benefits from lithium extraction.

by Motoni Olodun

Former Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo has slammed Ghana’s recent lithium lease agreement with Barari DV Ghana Limited, a subsidiary of Atlantic Lithium Limited, as a colonial-style deal that will not benefit the country. She made the remarks at a public lecture organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) in Accra on November 28, 2023.

According to her, the lease agreement, which grants the company a 15-year mining right for lithium extraction in the Mfantseman Municipality of the Central Region, is similar to the agreements made during the colonial era, often referred to as the ‘Guggisberg model. These agreements, she said, have failed to contribute substantially to the overall well-being of the average Ghanaian.

She contrasted the lease agreement with modern best practices, such as joint venture agreements or service contracts, where the host country maintains ownership or contracts with mining companies through transparent competitive bidding processes. She argued that these approaches would ensure optimal benefits for the country, such as increased royalty rates, state and Ghanaian participation, and value addition to the mined mineral.

Lithium is a key component of batteries used in electric vehicles, laptops, smartphones, and other devices. It is estimated that Ghana has about 14.4 million tonnes of lithium reserves, making it the third-largest producer in Africa after Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The global demand for lithium is expected to grow by 18% annually, reaching 1.4 million tonnes by 2025.

Ghana’s lithium lease agreement has been met with mixed reactions from various stakeholders. While some have welcomed it as a potential boost to the country’s economy and industrialisation, others have raised concerns about its environmental and social impacts, as well as its transparency and accountability. The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources has defended the agreement, saying that it includes enhanced terms that will ensure optimal benefits for the country.

The former chief justice, however, urged the government to review the agreement and adopt alternative models that would protect the country’s interests and sovereignty. She also called for a national dialogue on how to harness the country’s mineral resources for sustainable development.

Source: GhanaWeb


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