1D1F: US$80m steel factory ready in March

A Deputy Minister for Trade and Industry, Carlos Kingsley Ahenkorah has cut the sod for the construction of an US$80m steel factory by Indian company, B5 Plus, which is expected to employ over 3,000 direct workers.

“Construction of the factory is expected to commence in December this year, and it should be ready to begin full operations in March next year,” Mr. Ahenkorah noted.

“According to information available to us, they should start trial-runs from December; and latest by March next year this factory should be up and fully operational. They are looking at employing over 3,000 people and they will basically go into metal-products manufacturing,” he told journalists during the sod-cutting ceremony at the factory site at Lorpleku village in the Ningo-Prampram district of Greater Accra on Wednesday.

Citing the country’s first-ever metal factory, Tema Steelworks, established somewhere in the 1970’s, the country has had about 15 other investments into that area – but none of them have managed to meet an installed capacity of 1million tonnes.

He also maintained that government is prepared to go to great lengths in ensuring that B5 Plus succeeds in Ghana.

The Deputy-Trade Minister also indicated that government is making arrangements to deploy a 100-megawatt plant to generate electricity and water at the factory site, which will also impact surrounding areas.

Already, locally financial institutions have promised GH¢2.5billion to support the One District, One Factory programme, with government recommending close to 100 projects or businesses in a bid to support them to come through into the mainstream.

CEO of B5 Plus, Mike Thakwani, explained that the business environment has been conducive, which encouraged the desire to establish a steel factory in the country.

He also stated that over the years they have contributed to industralisation of the steel industry.

“If you go decades back, products like nails, wire-mesh we use to import from our neighbouring countries and from different parts of the world; today, we are a net exporter of all these products and we believe in industralisation – and we believe in Ghana.”

According to him, it is his hope that initiatives coming from the private sector will be supported so that the industralisation agenda can be realized, as well as foreign exchange saved.

B5 Plus, manufacturer, importer and exporter of iron and steel, is also looking to serve other West African countries aside from Ghana, Mr. Thakwani stated.

When the factory is up and running, it is expected to produce different types of steel products which were hitherto imported.

The factory will be sitting on 377 acres of land, with 15,000 production tonnage per month earmarked.

The country is estimated to import between 300,000 to 200,000 metric tonnes of steel annually, but with onset of the factory this is expected to become a thing of the past.

District Chief Executive for Ningo-Prampram, Jonathan Tei Doku, pledged his support for the project, but stressed that priority should be given to inhabitants of the district when it comes to recruitment of skilled labour.

Government, through the Ministry of Trade and Industry, aims at establishing at least one medium-to-large-scale factory in all 254 districts of the country under the ‘One District, One Factory’ programme.

The programme is private sector-led, with government facilitation and support in terms of incentives and provision of infrastructure.

It also seeks to achieve specific objectives which include the following: the creation of massive employment, particularly for the youth in rural and peri-urban communities, thereby improving income levels and standard of living as well as reducing rural-urban migration; adding value to the natural resources of each district; and exploiting the economic potential of each district based on its comparative advantage.

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