The National Council on Persons with Disability under the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection in collaboration with Africa Centre for Energy Policy and Ghana Federation of Disability Organisations held a stakeholder Forum for the Inclusion of Disability in the Extractive Industry in October, 2019 in Accra.

The Stakeholders Forum for the Inclusion of disability was necessitated by the need to bring stakeholders together so as to deliberate on the effective mainstreaming of disability in the extractive sector.

To achieve sustainable development, persons with disabilities are to be effectively included in the opportunities offered by the extractive sector and to ensure that persons with disabilities benefit equally from the revenue and resources from the extractive sector.

Above all, the forum was to demystify the perception that the extractive industry is risky for persons with disabilities.

Dignitaries including the Deputy Minister for Energy and representatives from the Ministry of Business Development were active participants. Participants from the extractive sector included Newmont, Ghana National Petroleum Authority, Precious Minerals Mining Company, Ghana Gas, Ghana Chamber Of Mines, Anglogold Ashanti, Persues Mining, Rigworld and Petroleum Commission.

The Chief Director of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection Dr. Afisah Zakariah in her welcome address stated that, the forum is very important because the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP) in collaboration with its stakeholders operates on the theme “Leaving no One Behind.” She said issues of disability is very important to the Government and the MoGCSP which is mandated to address challenges facing persons with disabilities.

Mr. Yaw Ofori-Debra, Board Chairman for the National Council on Persons with Disability in his address said issues of disability over the years have been relegated to the bottom of the national agenda, but currently, being given a recognition as a human rights issue.

The Executive Director of Africa Center for Energy Policy, Mr. Benjamin Boakye in his remarks said his organization is in the process empowering persons with disabilities in the society in order for them to contribute to the development of society.

The Deputy Minister for Energy Dr. Amin Adam in his address said he is delighted that the extractive industry is being called upon to discuss inclusiveness of persons with disabilities. Dr. Amin Adam stated the need for persons with disabilities to be empowered with the requisite skills and expertise so as to get job in the extractive industry.

The Deputy Minister for Energy communicated that the Government through the Ministry of Energy has communicated to Oil Companies to develop Gender and Disability Policies; because the Government demands that Oil Companies integrate Gender and Persons with disabilities into their operations. He stated that a number of them have started doing so.

The Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Cynthia Mamle Morrison stated that as much as persons with disabilities constitute a considerable percentage of the population of Ghana, their full potentials are yet to be fully harnessed. The Hon. Minister Cynthia Mamle Morrison further explained that, it is for this reason that the MoGCSP is integrating disability perspectives into the various activities of the Ministry to enhance their full potentials.

Cynthia Mamle Morrison added that her Ministry is working on putting up a center for children with cerebral palsy for easy access to therapy. She also highlighted the issue of sign language interpretation in hospitals especially.

The Minister appreciated the stakeholders in the extractive sector present and called on all corporate bodies to support persons with disabilities in order for them to contribute their quota towards national development.

Stakeholders in the extractive industry present expressed their willingness to work with their management to make sure that their corporate social responsibility policies reflect the support that is needed for all people including persons with disabilities.

Petroleum Commission made known that as part of their Accelerated Oil and Gas Programme, a quota of more than 5% is going to be set aside for the inclusion of persons with disabilities and also women.

Most of the stakeholders in the extractive industry present expressed concern for database on persons with disabilities. They requested for a database from the Council on persons with disabilities who are engineers, petrochemical scientists, geologists and geophysicists, etc.