ECOWAS Parliament Speaker Urges Action Against Rampant Illegal Mining Threats

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Kebba AF Touray

The Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Hon. Sidi Mohamed Tunis, highlighted the severe repercussions of illegal mining on the security, socio-economic, and environmental aspects of the region during the ongoing first Parliamentary Seminar in Sierra Leone.

Addressing the audience on Wednesday, January 31, 2024, Speaker Tunis emphasized the urgent need to investigate and address the complex challenges arising from illegal mining.

He stated, “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.”

Despite the potential positive impact of the mining sector on communities, Speaker Tunis pointed out the pressing concerns related to security, social-economic dividends, and environmental impacts on soil and water. He stressed the importance of a careful revision of available data, citing the alarming statistic that nearly 80% of mining in Northwest Nigeria is conducted illegally, leading to increased conflict since 2014 across multiple states.

Referring to the contribution of the mining sector to the GDP of Member States, Speaker Tunis highlighted figures from the ECOWAS Vision 2050 document. Ghana benefits 7.5 percent, Burkina Faso 10.2 percent, Cote d’Ivoire 4 percent, while Nigeria receives only 9 percent. He emphasized the potential impact of a properly regulated mining sector on regional economies.

Illegal mining of precious minerals in West Africa not only deprives Member States of essential revenue but also fuels instability through banditry, kidnapping, thuggery, and, in some cases, insurgency, Speaker Tunis noted.

To address the challenges posed by illegal mining, the Parliament dedicates its last Parliamentary Seminar of the Fifth Legislature to the topic. Speaker Tunis expressed the expectation that the seminar would enhance understanding of regional mining frameworks, challenges, and foster recommendations for collaborative solutions.

Highlighting the difficulties faced during the Fifth Legislature’s term, including the COVID-19 pandemic and international conflicts, Speaker Tunis underscored the importance of braving these challenges. He also noted regional threats such as terrorism, insecurity, and unconstitutional regime changes, emphasizing the need to uphold democracy and the rule of law.

Under his leadership, the Parliament has pursued objectives to promote relations with other Community institutions, maintain peace, observe elections, improve transparency, and address major community issues such as migration, free movement, energy access, food security, and youth and women employability. “We also strengthened and made more active the ECOWAS Parliament’s relationship with the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU), the Pan African Parliament (PAP), the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Parliamentary Forum”, he told the members.

Additionally, the ECOWAS Parliament, under Speaker Tunis’s leadership, has actively engaged with parliaments worldwide, including those of the Kingdom of Morocco, the Pan African Parliament, and the Latin American Parliament.