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Accra, February 29, 2012: Dr. Ayesha S. Hakeem, Managing Director of African Connections Ghana Limited, has urged the extractive industry to implement Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives that are sustainable to reduce the culture of dependency in communities within which they operate.

She said economic development initiatives such as agriculture, aquaculture and enterprise development will help empower members to be self-reliant rather than rely on company handouts.

Dr. Hakeem was presenting a paper on the topic, "Do Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Initiatives in the Extractive Industry Promote Dependency?”, at a one-day workshop organized by the Centre for Corporate Responsibility (CCR) of the University of Ghana Business School (UGBS).

She said sustainability in CSR initiatives could only be achieved if mining communities are involved in project design.

She said that although there are no nationally recognized CSR guidelines there are a number of institutions which are working hard to come up with standards to benchmark companies’ efforts in CSR in the country.

"The Minerals Commission recently drafted the "Guidelines for Implementing CSR programme in Mining Communities” to serve as benchmarks for developing and assessing CSR programmes and activities by mining companies”, she said.

Dr. Hakeem mentioned social and community investment support schemes; infrastructural development and human resource development and Alternative Livelihood Programmes (ALPs) as some of the CSR initiatives that have been implemented over the years.

Touching on ALPs, she said most ALPs were not sustainable and therefore did not achieve their project goals of improving the livelihoods of project affected people and communities.

"Agricultural programmes should be market driven and farmers should be trained to produce crops and animals with a high market demand instead of producing the same traditional crops and animals at the same time, she emphasized.

She also called for the provision of entrepreneurial and business skills training for farmers and micro enterprises under ALPs to strengthen their capacity to operate profitably.

Dr. Hakeem cited the Ahafo Agribusiness Growth Initiative (AAGI), an initiative designed and implemented by AC as one of the successful CSR initiatives that continues to improve the livelihoods of farmers in the Asutifi District.

"AAGI was a partnership between AC, MoFA, Newmont, Traditional Leaders and the Asutifi District Assembly to help small holder farmers in South Ahafo increase productivity, boost incomes and serve as a catalyst for local economic growth”, she said.

She said AC’s focus under AAGI was to help small scale farmers to transition into sustainable agriculture to empower them to be self-reliant.

"AC was able to train farmers to apply best farming practices to meet market specifications and international quality standards. AC then linked them to markets and micro-finance institutions. We also taught them record keeping to make them credit worthy and help them operate efficiently”, she explained.

She noted that although AC has officially ended its work on the AAGI project, farming has become a sustainable business in the district.

Dr. Hakeem also charged the extractive industry to include local supply and procurement polices in their CSR programmes to support the growth of local business and improve livelihoods.

Dr. Dan Ofori, Coordinator of the CCR and a Senior Lecturer and Head of the Department of Organization & HRM of the UGBS, the Centre aims to equip managers with the skills and outlook to put sustainability and responsibility at the heart of their operations by integrating Corporate Social Responsibility behaviour within organizations.

Dr. Ofori reiterated that the Centre would execute its mandate through the creation, dissemination, facilitation and application of CSR knowledge for various stakeholder groups in the private, public and non-governmental sectors.

Other presentations were made by the Ghana Chamber of Mines and Unilever Ghana Limited.