“The projects companies do and call Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in Ghana, is a sham,” says Ebow Haizel-Ferguson.
Haizel-Ferguson who is the Corporate Affairs and Community Relations Director of Sigma-Base Technical Services (GH) Limited made this declaration when he took his turn to address a group of journalists from Ghana and Uganda at a 10-day workshop to strengthen their knowledge and skills for reporting on oil, gas and mining, in Accra.
According to Haizel-Ferguson, many companies that operate in Ghana, throw out a little school building here, a bore hole there and call it CSR. He said, “comparing it with the high profit they make, this is tokenism.”
“They do not even consult the members of the community for which these projects are meant for”, he added. “The CSR should be about what the indigenes need and not what the companies think they want,” he said.
Addressing the group, Mohammed Amin Adam who is an Energy Economist with experience in development finance and project appraisal said that, the planning of CSR should include the people living in the community. He proposed that, a CSR regulating body should be established to oversee the activities of CSR projects of companies.
Haizel-Ferguson agreeing with the proposal, added that, the creation of an institution like this, is long overdue.
“The mining companies’ CSR projects have not been useful to us,” Mr. Mohammed Pepluo, Tarkwa and Prestea representative of WACAM – a Civil Society Organization, that advocates against negative impact of mining, says.
According to Pelpuo, a borehole provided by the Golden Resource mining company at Twiagya near Prestea, was done without consulting the indigenes. He says that, water from the borehole is not wholesome and turns bluish whenever raw plantain is dropped into it.
He could however not state the reason for the unwholesomeness of the water but believes that, the project is wrongly cited.
Adding his voice, Head, Organisation and Human Resource Management of the University of Ghana Business School – Dr Daniel Ofori said many corporate bodies operating in Ghana lacked broad knowledge and understanding of what CSR entailed.
Dr Ofori explained that CSR goes beyond philanthropy, and covers a wider perspective, which includes observing sound environmental maintenance practices, good treatment of workers, ensuring quality products, adhering to basic ethical standards in social and business circles as well as observing their legal obligations.
Mr Haizel-Ferguson said that, he is in talks with most of the companies operating in and around the Western Region to ensure that, meaningful CSR projects are undertaken.
By Pascal Kelvin Kudiabor