The Managing Director of the Integrated Gas & Energy Services, Emmanuel Anyaeto, has advised the government of Ghana to invest in setting up a petrochemical plant in order to boost the nation’s economy and Africa’s as a whole.
According to him, investing in a petrochemical plant will make Ghana self-sufficient and contribute to achieving government’s ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’ agenda.
He said: “Petrochemicals are the things we use every day around us. They are the plastics, soaps, paints, drugs, fertiliser, explosives and synthetic fibres. The potential lies in the population of the West Africa sub-region; and as the West African region’s population continues to grow, you need to spend money importing these things. So, it is important that we make our own petrochemicals in Africa, especially in the WA region – and that will reduce the foreign exchange we spend importing plastics and chemicals for our industries”.
Speaking at the just-ended 5th edition of the Ghana Gas Forum, under the theme ‘Driving Ghana’s Downstream Gas Utilisation’, Mr. Anyaeto said in order to grow the economy and sustain Ghana’s downstream gas utilisation, Ghana needs to build a big petrochemical plant that uses feedstock.
He noted that feedstock is derived from petroleum for the manufacture of chemicals, synthetic rubber and a variety of plastics; and with Ghana having substantial reserves of natural gas, it can be used to develop the petrochemical industry.
He revealed that Nigeria built three huge petrochemical plants – but they all however collapsed in the long run, because they did not put in measures for maintenance and sustainability.
“One of the most critical things needed to build is competent staff with technical and managerial skills. It means you need a lot of engineers, and the majority must be made up of indigenes. Nigeria also could not provide the feedstock on a regular basis, and that was a major contributing factor that led to the collapse,” he said.
Emmanuel Anyaeto advised that Ghana has to strengthen its educational system in order to invest its gas in petrochemicals. According to him, Ghana has to train more engineers in order to build and maintain the plant for the long haul and reap its benefits to boost the economy.
“You need a lot of engineering skills to run petrochemicals. So, instead of importing expatriates from other countries that cost money, use Ghanaians. Which means Ghanaian Universities need to start expanding their capacity to teach analytical chemistry, petroleum engineering, chemical engineering and process engineering – because the more the expatriates, the less money you make out of it.”
He noted that one of Africa’s biggest problems is importation of used goods and products. Mr. Anyaeto said these products are costly in the long run, and are a contributing factor to Africa’s economic problems.
In an interview, he said: “In Africa, it is very common for people to go and import used equipment from other countries. The problem is that such plants have been run for a long time and their life-cycle is almost gone, so it doesn’t take advantage of new technology. Such plants are very expensive to maintain, because in a short while they cost so much money for fixing and maintenance and it will eventually collapse. So, we have to learn to import brand-new hi-tech plants because they save money and allow you to do complex things to meet customers’ demands,” he advised.
Also present was Chairman for the forum Kwame Pianim, who noted that to have a sustainable industrial sector Ghana has to feed its power generation with gas.
He said: “Our industries will have to change from electricity energy to using gas. The most important thing is that the pricing has to be competitive”.
Executive Secretary of the Gas Consortium, Senam F. Gbeho, said this year’s forum centred on influencing policy decisions in the energy sector – with specific focus on natural gas as a catalyst for development.
He noted that the event also provided innovative ways of increasing downstream gas utilisation toward government’s agenda of leveraging the country’s gas resources for industrialisation.
The Ghana Gas Forum promoted a close partnership among key industry players – including the Ministry of Energy, Ghana National Gas Company and Ghana National Petroleum Corporation – in policy discussions.
It also featured a new session named the ‘CEO Interactive Session’ on Day 2, structured to enable decision-makers share their upcoming work plans with peers, service providers and interested participants.