Ghana’s economy will shift from commodity-based to industrialisation in the next few years, following ongoing efforts to prioritise investments in petrochemicals, iron and steel industry and integrated aluminium to help drive the country’s new phase of development.
Consequently, the government has outlined eight new strategic pillars as part of its effort to move the economy from commodity exporter to an industrialised one.
The new pillars include; the establishment of a petrochemical industry, an iron and steel industry, an integrated aluminium industry, the expansion of the domestic production of pharmaceuticals and the establishment of a vehicle assembly and automotive industry.
The rest are the production of industrial salt, the establishment of garment and textiles enterprises, and the manufacturing of machinery, equipment and component parts.
These pillars are expected to benefit from an integrated approach that will include backwards and forward linkages, using available resources such oil, bauxite, aluminium and the country’s twin-ports as enablers.
After depending on raw material exports for 60 years, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Alan Kyerematen’s aid the time had now come for the country to shift into light and heavy industrialisation by leveraging the various opportunities available to it.
Fortunately, he said the private sector had bought into the initiative, with some currently asking for ways they can support to make it fruiful.
He gave the assurance when he met members of the American Chamber of Commerce.
Mr Kyerematen said there had been investors who had shown interest in partnering government to set up an aluminium production plant in the country.
He said there were vast and untapped bauxite deposits at Kyebi, Atiwa Plains and Nyinahin, and the plant when built, would help the country to add value to its bauxite deposits.
This, he said, would also facilitate the export of manufactured aluminum products, a vision which had been on the tables for long.
Over the past 58 years, and particularly since the 1983 structural adjustment programmes, Ghana has been attempting to build a vertically integrated aluminum industry in order to transform its agriculture-based, extractive economy to an industrial one.
The minister pointed out that a vertically integrated aluminum industry would consist of mining, refining, smelting and fabrication with bauxite and cheap electricity as the key inputs and, therefore, urged investor to position themselves to take advantage of the opportunities that would come with the setting up of the aluminum industry.
Mr Kyerematen also noted that the country intended to establish a petrochemical industry from the oil and gas deposits from the Jubilee, TEN and Sankofa fields.
He said this move was to ensure that the country got the most benefits from its oil and gas industry.
“This will boost the local economy and by extension shore up the nation’s economic performance,” he stated.
Iron and steel industry
The minister also indicated another strategic industry the government was looking at which was the iron and steel industry, which would exploit the country’s iron ore deposits at Oppon Manso and Sheini near Tamale.
He said this industry, when established, would also facilitate another government initiative which was the manufacturing of machinery, equipment and component parts.
Garment and textiles industry
Mr Kyerematen also disclosed the governments’ plans of setting up a garment and textile industry in a bid to take advantage of the huge US market under the African Growth Opportunity Act 9 (AGOA).
AGOA is an initiative of the US government to provide market access to eligible sub-Saharan African countries to enter the US market.
It provides trade preferences for quota and duty-free entry into the United States for garments and textiles.
However, since its coming into being, the country had failed to take full advantage of the opportunities that came with it due to the country’s inability to meet the huge demands from the US market.
The minister said the establishment of the garment and textiles industry was ,therefore, aimed at repositioning the country to take full advantage of AGOA.
The government also intends to improve the country’s ratings on the World Bank’s ease of doing index.
The minister said the government had identified three areas which include business registration, construction permit and electricity which it would address before the end of June.
“These three things alone when addressed will improve the business environment and could move the country to around 40th on the next ease of doing business report.
The Doing Business 2017 report placed the country the 108th position out of 190 countries.
Support for SMEs
As part of measures to develop the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) sector, he said the government would put in place a mechanism that would link SMEs to large companies in the country.
“This will ensure that the large companies subcontract some of their businesses to the SMEs,” he explained.
He said the government also had plans of establishing industrial parks for SMEs in each of the 10 regions in the country.
“We already have interest from investors to establish industrial parks in four of the regions,” he added.
Call for action
The Vice-President of AMCHAM, Mr Felix Addo, for his part called on the government to move beyond the paper work and talk to actually implement all the plans it had outlined.
“With the few things I have seen, I am sure the government will deliver on these promises,” he stated.
He also called on the government to create the right environment for businesses to thrive in the country.