George Arhin, Partner and PwC West Africa Mining Leader,


"This is the best time for mining companies to invest in cost optimization solutions to sustain their business when the gold prices dip."

Could you highlight some recent developments within PwC Ghana?

Internally, we have formalized our remote work arrangement, officially granting all employees to work flexibly wherever and whenever they like, as long as their tasks are completed. This is a very big change for the company, requiring both a cultural shift, but also investments in remote work infrastructure to enable seamless workflows. We have formally launched the new model in Ghana aligning our workforce with the current needs of the world.

What are some key industry trends emerging from the pandemic?

One of the main trends we observe in the market is the increased focus on cyber security and cyber security insurance. With more people than ever working online, cyber-attack risks have increased, motivating companies to get cyber-insured. However, before obtaining their insurance, they need to first pass a due diligence process and make sure they have steady networks in place. PwC assists clients with these assessments, providing penetration testing which can reveal the strength of the cyber defence and the effectiveness of their security controls.

The second big trend is around cost optimization. Gold prices hit an all-times-high last year, but given the erratic nature of commodity prices, we all know these highs cannot last forever once the pandemic normalizes. This is the best time for mining companies to invest in cost optimization solutions to sustain their business when the gold prices dip.

What drives M&A activity in the mining sector?

I expect to see an influx in M&A transactions driven first by a desire to create efficiencies. Also, exploration companies are becoming a very attractive target for producers who need to replenish their reserves. In the high price commodity environment, many miners reduced their exploration budgets to focus on cash-generating production, but they are reaching a point when they need to develop new projects.

Ghana’s economy is projected to bounce back at 5% GDP growth this year. How important is mining for the country’s economic recovery?

Mining has always been a bedrock of Ghana’s economy, representing over 40% of the total exports value and playing a fundamental role in job creation; in remote areas without another major source of employment, mining can account for about 90% of local jobs.

However, illegal mining activities are a big challenge for miners and a big drawback for government revenues. Illegal miners target the ore bodies of large mining companies who end up spending considerable time, money and effort to fight these activities. After a huge government campaign to clamp down on illegal mining, Ghana became the de facto top gold producer in the continent, dethroning South Africa. The government must continue to ward off illegal miners to allow formal companies to focus on their exploration and mining activities.

Finally, if we think about the direct contribution of mining in taxes and royalties, the government has implemented new guarantee clauses requiring mining companies to pay an annual guaranteed dividend to the government whether they make progress or not, something which was not stipulated in the past. In the last budget statement, the minister made reference to the need for tax audits within the extractive industries to make sure that mining companies are compliant with the law.

Can you tell us more about the role that the PwC Business School plays in Ghana?

We established the Business School back in 2014 with a view to building the workforce of the future for the country. Ghana faces two key challenges from a human capital perspective: Graduates enter the workplace without practical skills, and those who are already working have nowhere to turn to when they lack certain skills. Unlike the traditional university, the PwC Business School does not award a degree, but it equips executives and senior executives to manage emerging topics like ESG or new tax regulations. Any alumni of the school can call the business school and ask questions when they need help by making use of our dedicated support phone lines.

Do you have a final message?

At PwC, we are driven by the value we add to our clients’ business. We support our clients to transition to a new normal by ensuring their systems are robust and ready to stand the test of time, and that their workforce is aligned with the changing strategies of the organization.