Order in the ‘mining–development disorder’: Property rights regime of gold mining and the outcomes on sustainable development in Ghana
Stephen Yeboah1, Martha Amoako2
1University of Lausanne, Switzerland; 2Charles University, Czech Republic
Natural resources offer unparalleled opportunity for sustained growth and development. But too often resource-rich countries miss this opportunity, where instead of fuelling growth and development, natural resources bring regressive growth, poverty, rent-seeking, environmental degradation, and conflicts. This has been termed the “resource curse”.
To translate resource wealth into sustained development, ‘good governance’ has been offered as a remedy to this curse – to bring order in the growing mining–development disorder. But do ‘good governance’ offer what it promises? The proponents of good governance have done little to explain the causal factors that underlie the poor governance of natural resource in developing countries.
Ghana is Africa’s second largest gold producer. Though it is rich in natural resources like gold, these resources have failed to generate sustained development and increased the social and economic livelihoods of Ghanaians, particularly those living in mining communities. In addition, mining has destroyed water bodies, tracts of farm lands and degraded forest reserves. At the heart of this mining–development disorder is property rights regime. Property rights spells out the political processes and economic outputs that are formalized into legal frameworks, legislations, and contracts and agreements between resource owners and resource developers. A property rights regime is the soul of institutions and policies that assigns and enforces titles to resources, regulate resource capital and labour markets, and how these resources are governed.
This study argues that contemporary ‘good governance’ approaches in Ghana’s gold mining have failed because they do not adequately capture property rights regime and its importance to resource governance. This has further deepened disorder between mining and development. Using the institutional resource regime (IRR) approach, this study explores the key role of property rights regimes (formal and customary property rights), public policies, and institutions in improving development outcomes in mining communities in Ghana.