Sir Sam Jonah has said he finds it “rather disturbing” that “the Chinese, having helped pollute our rivers through illegal mining activities and having, in connivance with some Ghanaians, acquired large tracks of farmlands in the cocoa-growing areas, have started producing their own cocoa”.
In a speech to Rotarians in Accra titled ‘Down the up escalator – Reflections on Ghana’s future by a senior citizen’, the executive chairman of Jonah Capital, an equity fund based in Johannesburg, South Africa, said: “Their illicit mining activities release mercury into the soil”, adding: “Mercury is indestructible and traces have been found in some of our cocoa beans”.
What this means, he noted, “is that even our traditional source of revenue from which thousands of farmers obtain their livelihoods is no longer secure, as we risk losing the premium quality of our cocoa”.
This, he said, “is a terrible prospect and it is one that must be tackled with a renewed sense of urgency”.
Coupled with the huge debts stock as well as the negative prospects for gold, oil and remittances in the next four decades, as major contributors to Ghana’s national economy, Mr Jonah said “the inevitable conclusion from all of this is that the sustainability of our current sources of revenue is under threat”.
“We are borrowing huge sums of money for our children and grandchildren to pay, yet we are not seeing realistic strategies that assure us of our capacity to pay back”, he noted.
“How are the 30-year, 40-year bonds going to be paid?” he asked.
“I am afraid that unless there are clear plans to ensure that the economy creates jobs, reduces poverty and improves upon the quality of life of the average Ghanaian, a sense of hopelessness and helplessness will be the lot of our children and grandchildren”, Mr Jonah warned.
The debt, he said, “will suffocate them”.
“This is what concerns me”, he added.