A Political Economy of Regulatory Policy: The Case of ‘Illegal’ Small-Scale Mining in Ghana
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Drawing on insights from political economy, this chapter seeks to answer two interrelated questions: How do we explain the rational and strategic behaviors of miners and elected officials in Ghana’s small-scale mining sector? And how do these behaviors perpetuate ‘illegal’ mining in Ghana? The main arguments are that elected officials act rationally by exhibiting a dominant strategy of non-cooperation, thereby failing to broker viable policy options to reduce ‘illegal’ mining. ‘Illegal’ miners act strategically by refusing to register because there are low incentives for doing so. Further, by exercising intelligence and creativity, miners adapt to government regulation by partnering with foreign (e.g., Chinese) nationals and threatening to vote against elected officials for reneging on their promise to regularize the practice. We propose that, rather than being non-cooperative, elected officials can broker binding agreements to cooperate in order to tackle illegal mining in Ghana.
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