The MTN Ghana Foundation has constructed and handed over a modern oil palm processing centre, to empower more than 200 women engaged in palm oil production at Juaso in the Asante Akyem South Municipality of the Ashanti Region.
The facility, constructed at a cost of GH₵740,000, is among others expected to address unemployment while providing opportunities for those in the palm oil business, which is the major source of livelihood for most women in the Juaso area.
Construction of the factory was done with support from the local traditional authorities and National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI), which were involved in training the project beneficiaries.
The Chief Executive of MTN, Mr. Selorm Adadevoh, noted the project brings to 145 the total number of projects undertaken by the Foundation in the country – which is part of the company’s way of giving back to society.
He said the Foundation prioritises and supports three specific areas – mainly health, education and economic empowerment – and therefore moved to assist the women, considering the impact it will have on the local economy.
Having identified the risk and other conditions the women were formerly operating in, he observed that a number of modern machines have been brought in to make the women’s work more convenient, less risky and more profitable.
Some of the installed equipment at the newly-constructed facility include a steamer, single screw press, palm oil expeller, clarifier, fruit digestor among others.
He urged them to cultivate and improve their maintenance culture in order to ensure the project is sustained.
The Executive Director of the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI), Mrs. Kosi Antwiwaa Yankey, said sustainability of the project also requires the beneficiaries be regularly trained to improve the business.
Thus, she noted, NBSSI as a partner in the project will commit both financial and technical resources to ensure it is achieved in sucha manner that later generations can also benefit from it.
With over 188 offices across the country, she said it is the NBSSI’s objective to help resource the enterprising youth; targetting about 1,700 youth in the Ashanti Region alone this year.
A board member of MTN, Mrs. Nabila Williams, said the Foundation – as part of its activities to mark the 20th anniversary of MTN’s operation in Ghana – identified this project that is linked to the economic empowerment of women.
She said prior to commissioning the project, the women were trained on entrepreneurship and business management as well as technology to continue improving oil palm processing.
She advised the beneficiaries to maintain a neat and hygienic environment in order to increase patronage of their business.
The Municipal Chief Executive for Asante Akyem South Municipality, Mr. Alexander Frimpong, said with arrival of the project, the Assembly has since taken a decision to support the youth to go into nursing palm oil seedlings.
This will help to ensure the project’s sustainability in terms of getting regular supply of the raw materials for processing. Additionally, he said, it will create employment for the youth who will also go into palm farming.
The Chief of Juaso, Nana Kwesi Teebi, while expressing appreciation to the MTN Foundation for the project noted that discussions to construct the project date back to 2016. He urged beneficiaries to endeavour to make use the opportunity, noting that empowering women is key to achieving economic transformation.
The Ashanti Regional Minister, Mr. Simon Osei Mensah, said government recognises the role of private sector-led initiatives and will continue to encourage and support such initiatives to bring development.
In view of the employment opportunities the facility will provide, he charged the people of Juaso to ensure proper use and maintenance of the facility; and also to ensure that it continues to provide the services for which it was established.