The Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Rt. Hon. Dr Mohamed Sidie Tunis has urged the governments of Member States to immediately “investigate and find sustainable” solutions to the complex interplay of factors which have denied the region the benefits of its vast mineral resources which are being illegally mined to the detriment of the States.
“The threat of illegal mining in the ECOWAS region is having far-reaching implications on the security, socio-economic and environmental fabric of the region,” the Speaker said on Wednesday, 31st January, 2024 at the opening of a three day seminar organized by the Parliament on the “Illegal mining and its implications in the ECOWAS Region.”
Despite the potential of the mining sector to impact positively on the lives of Community citizens, Speaker Tunis said that “the complex interplay of security, social-economic dividends, environmental impacts on the soil and waters, have emerged as pressing concerns that demand immediate investigation and finding sustainable solutions.”
Citing the Community’s vision 2050 document, he said that the mining sector has the potential to contribute 7.5 per cent to Ghana’s GDP, 10.2 per cent to the GDP of Burkina Faso, 4 per cent to the GDP of Cote d’Ivoire while Nigeria receives only 9% from the sector with 80 per cent of the mining in the country’s North West region carried out illegally.
He therefore called for the proper regulation of the sector with the expectation that this will make the sector more impactful on the economies of the Member States, as illegal mining of the region’s precious minerals not only robs the region of much needed revenue to grow their economies but has resulted in instances of instability through banditry, kidnapping, thuggery and in some cases insurgency.
Furthermore, he explained that it was in recognition of the value of the mining sector to the economies of the Member States that the leadership of the Parliament decided to dedicate the last parliamentary seminar of the fifth legislature to the sector.
This is with the expectation that at the end of the seminar, parliamentarians will have a greater appreciation of the regional mining frameworks and challenges to their implementation and make recommendations where regional collaboration can be fostered to boost the sector.
Speaker Tunis, who is at the threshold of completing his four-year tenure which also marks the end of the fifth legislature of the Parliament, said the period was marked by ‘progressive and undisputed conduct of its duties in line with the pledge made during the legislature’s inauguration in 2020, in Niamey.
In his inaugural address in Niamey, the Speaker had announced a 10-point strategic plan for the fifth legislature, mainly the promotion of intra-Community relations; maintenance of peace; election observation; improving transparency and accountability in the Community’s budgeting process for programmes and the establishment of Community standards and the formulation of policies.
He also pledged to bring Parliament closer to the people; instill accountability and transparency in the operations of the Parliament; initiate reflection on the election of the parliamentarians by direct universal suffrage; institute administrative reforms for strengthening the human resource capacity of the Parliament and address issues of concern to the Community.
The Speaker said at the event, which was graced by President Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone, that the fifth legislature has delivered on these commitments, manifested by the examination and issuance of opinions on 83 draft Community Acts and adoption of 93 Resolutions of Parliament.
“Despite the extremely difficult context the region finds itself,” the Speaker said that Parliament was able to hold almost all its statutory meetings, namely seven ordinary and eight extra-ordinary sessions including the strengthening of the ECOWAS Female Parliamentarians Association (ECOFEPA) and the establishment of regional network of legislative Journalists (AWALCO) as the press corps of the Parliament.
The fifth legislature was inaugurated on 9th March, 2020 during its first sitting in Niamey by former President Issoufou Mahamadou of the Republic of Niger, during which the Speaker was elected along with four other deputies, to consist the Bureau of Parliament.