In recent times, some lithium rich countries in Africa are gearing up to strategically position themselves to reap significant gains in the lithium value chain by introducing trade policies that would enable them capture more of the value in the global market. Countries such as Zimbabwe and Namibia have banned the export of unbeneficiated lithium and other critical minerals.

Based on recent statements by the President of Ghana H.E Nana Akuffo Addo and the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Hon. Samuel Abu Jinapor, and some developments in the extractive sector, there is clear indication that Ghana is bracing itself to follow this trajectory of banning the export of some critical minerals especially lithium and bauxite in their raw state, to enable the refining and processing of these minerals domestically.

Speaking at the ‘Bloomberg New Economy Gateway Africa’ summit in Marrakesh, Morocco on Wednesday June 14, 2023, Hon. Samuel Abu Jinapor, reiterated plans by the government to ensure value addition to the country’s green minerals. According to the Minister, Ghana will in no way export its lithium and other green minerals in their raw state. He revealed that the government is putting in place the right policy and legal framework—which is before Cabinet for consideration—to ensure that the country retain significant portion of the mineral value chain locally.

“We intend to end the practice of not adding value to our mineral resources. We are beginning by establishing the appropriate policy and legal framework for Ghana to significantly benefit from the new paradigm of green energy…To be able to benefit from the green minerals, therefore, we must make a conscious effort to move away from the export of raw materials to value addition,” the Minister intimated.

This intention to ban the export of the country’s unprocessed minerals was first hinted by the President H.E Nana Akuffo Addo when delivering the keynote address at the Natural Resources Stakeholder Dialogue, held on Thursday, 11th May 2023, in Accra. The President bemoaned the lack of development and deprivations in mining communities in Ghana, despite the huge profits reaped by mining companies. He attributed this challenge to the lack of value addition as a result of the short-sightedness of governments in mineral contract negotiations.

“The truth is that we have always not done well in negotiations with companies that exploit our natural resources. Among other things such as corruption, incompetence and political instability, we have been mostly short-sighted in these negotiations, and thus end up settling for less. And worse of all, we have until recently failed to put in place the requisite frameworks that will enable us establish the highest ends of the value chain in the extractive industries in our continent. Extensive tax and royalty exemptions, intolerable labour practices and lack of value addition in-country have resulted in the exceptional profits to mining companies at the expense of our communities and citizens in the country. We cannot repeat these mistakes” the President stressed.

Ghana is blessed with a lot of mineral resources such as gold, bauxite, manganese, oil, diamond, cobalt, nickel, lead, zinc, chromium etc. The country recently discovered lithium, which it is hoping to exploit commercially. For decades, the country has been exporting its minerals in their raw state without any value addition.