TWN has a new publication on artisanal and small scale salt mining in the Ketu South district of Ghana which looks at the conflict brewing between local communities and a large scale salt company whose activities seek to deprive the local artisanal and small salt miners and fisherfolk of their livelihoods.
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. This is a research report 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. The analysis of the conflict around the Keta Lagoon and how to optimise the salt production potential of the area was commissioned by TWN-Africa to contribute to our understanding of a key issue in the AMV agenda.
TWN-Africa is grateful to Alhassan Atta-Quayson for conducting the research and preparing the report.
We also thank the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) for their funding support for the project.
To read the full report please click HERE