Global Development Institute Blog

In March 2024, Gerald Arhin passed his viva on extractive governance and the energy transition at GDI. Having already published three single-authored articles, Gerald’s research contributions have had a significant impact both in Manchester and beyond.

In the following blog, Gerald reflects on a recent trip to Ghana, where he was able to share his research findings.

By Gerald Arhin

It felt like a dream fulfilled when I had the opportunity to disseminate my research findings in Ghana thanks to the research grant from the Rory and Elizabeth Brooks Doctoral College. Having experienced mining-related environmental devastation in my childhood, I was keen to pursue research that contributes to improving extractive governance.

My PhD research, which focused on the politics of transparency and accountability (T&A) in extractives, was aimed at doing just that. To improve the impact of my research, the dissemination activity was targeted three main groups: the academic community, the policy space, and the general public.

On 10th January 2024, I organised a seminar in the University of Ghana’s Department of Political Science. Attending the seminar were both academics and students of politics. I shared my findings as to why competitive bidding of licensing has been adopted at different levels across Ghana’s mining and hydrocarbon sectors. The presentation highlighted both the technical and political reasons that underlie adoption processes in each extractive industry. In particular, I emphasised how power dynamics vary across the mining and hydrocarbon industries, which differentially shape adoption processes.


Gerald Arhin delivers a talk at a seminar organised at the University of Ghana.


The reaction from the seminar was very telling and demonstrated the relevance of the dissemination activity. As Dr Emmanuel Yeboah-Assiamah, the discussant of the seminar stated, ‘this research is very timely… the controversy around the governance of our discovered lithium is unsettled… it will help gain more insights into how governance of our lithium should be approached in a more transparent manner.’

Although gold mining was the focus of my research, it was quite intriguing that participants drew useful parallels with lithium governance in the country. At the time, the government had recently entered into a lithium mining agreement with Atlantic Lithium, an Australian-based mining company.

Part of the discussions around the agreement focused on why the mining license was awarded to Atlantic Lithium without competitive bidding. My research helped to explain why competitive bidding has not been adopted in Ghana’s mining industry. For more insights, you can read the full journal publication here.


Gerald Arhin delivers a lecture at the University of Ghana


To help reach the general public, I engaged in a national radio discussion on 31st January 2024. This discussion was in the Twi language, a Ghanaian dialect. The use of the local language was aimed at explaining my findings in a way that would be understandable to as many Ghanaians as possible, including those who are not fluent in the English language. From text messages sent to the radio station, it was evident that my explanation gave a clearer sense to the public as to why certain decisions are made in relation to the governance of the country’s resources.

Watch a video of the radio discussion here:

Further, I prepared a policy brief highlighting the policy implications of my research on resource revenue accountability. The Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), a research thinktank in the energy space, has agreed to publish this brief. The policy brief emphasises the need for Ghana to revise the nationally-focused nature of its accountability committee by including subnational dimensions. Such an approach helps to tilt the balance of power in a way that allows local people to demand accountability of duty bearers in managing the country’s extractive revenues.

My dissemination activity further revealed useful pointers for my future research agenda. The constant linkage of my research findings to the country’s governance of its recently discovered lithium emphasised the significance of charting research avenues around critical minerals. Consequently, I managed to gather some reconnaissance data around local power dynamics in governing Ghana’s lithium, which will be influential in my future research.

I would encourage other postgraduate research students to consider taking advantage of this dissemination opportunity. For me, it can multiple purposes: fulfilling ethical commitments, shaping policy outcomes, and hopefully identifying new research paths.


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