The Minerals Income and Investment Fund (MIIF) has revealed plans to support development of the Salt industry in Ghana, with the Ada Songhor Lagoon as its utmost priority.
This followed a working tour by the Board and Management of MIIF and officials of the Ghana Stock Exchange. The Ada salt pans on the Songhor Lagoon have potential to be the largest salt-producing area in sub-Saharan Africa.
The CEO of MIIF, Edward Nana Yaw Koranteng, revealed to reporters that: “MIIF is far advanced with plans to invest in the Ada Songhor salt project toward developing it to be the largest in sub-Saharan Africa. Ultimately, this investment seeks to ensure that Ghana benefits from the many uses of Salt; especially as a core input to support the industrialisation agenda of Ghana’s government”.
The Ada Songhor pans sit on some 41,000 acres straddling at least 33 Ada communities, and is larger in acreage than Walvis Bay of Namibia – which is about 16,700 acres and the largest Salt-producing area in sub-Saharan Africa. Electrochem Ghana Limited is the Ghanaian company developing the Ada Songhor salt pans.
MIIF’s salt outlook and investment
MIIF has declared Salt as a priority mineral in Ghana, in line with its investment strategy of generating downstream to upstream value from every single mineral. According to Professor Douglas Boateng, Board Chairman of MIIF: “The Fund is targetting investments across producing areas in the Greater Accra and Central Regions of Ghana”.
Mr. Koranteng further stressed that: “Salt is an infinite resource with over 14,000 uses. At full potential and with such expansive usage, Salt in Ghana has the potential to earn circa US$500million a year in foreign exchange – with Nigeria and the sub-region as priority markets. Salt as a raw material covers the pharmaceuticals, food processing, oil and gas, food preservation, production of caustic soda, the textiles industry, mining, road maintenance, hospitals and hospitality sectors – which all require high-grade salt to support the manufacturing of inputs or processing.
“This is the reason MIIF is excited about this opportunity for Ghana and is currently working on a broad-based investment that will include a listing of the project on the Ghana Stock Exchange.” The scale of the Ada Songhor salt project also presents opportunities for two export jetties to facilitate export and other lagoon transport opportunities; create massive employment in the producing areas; and substantially revitalise the local economies.
MIIF investment and the intended listing of Electrochem on GSE
In accordance with MIIF’s investment strategy to ensure that all major investments are listed on the Ghana Stock Exchange, Mr. Yaw Koranteng confirmed that Electrochem has agreed to list on the Ghana Stock Exchange as a condition to MIIF’s investment.
Mr. Koranteng stated: “Investing in Salt is part of our mineral diversification strategy, in line with President Nana Akufo-Addo charging the MIIF with ensuring that we create Ghanaian business champions – while at the same time creating opportunities along the value chain and on the capital markets for Ghanaians to directly have a chance to invest in such companies”.
The Managing Director of Ghana Stock Exchange, Ms. Abena Amoah – who is also a member of the Investment Advisory Committee (IAC) of MIIF said: “What I have come to see here really warms my heart. A great company is underpinned by the quality of its assets. We can become Africa’s number-one Salt producer: the sea never dries, the technology exists to mine the Salt and a market for it is not in doubt. And so, with some ring-fencing and great risk management, the investment in Electrochem and its listing on the Ghana Stock Exchange will be a win-win for all Ghanaians.”
About Ada Songhor
Constructed in the 1970s, the Ada Songhor Salt Project by acreage is the largest in sub-Saharan Africa. It has run into several challenges over the years, including lack of investment, and was vested in the government in 1992. Following a five-year investment endeavour that required garnering and courting community support, Electrochem Ghana Ltd. finally obtained a long-term lease in 2021 to manage the salt pans and quickly put a plan for development in place. The plan has seen a total investment of US$80million so far – which has gone into rehabilitating the pans as they had become decrepit and overly-silted, and restoring the Songhor Lagoon that had been dried-up for eight years.
“All the work done from scratch has been with our technical partners, Serra Process of Spain. Their advice and expertise gleaned from years of experience as a major global player in Salt is responsible for the successes chalked up on this project,” says Dzigbordi Kwaku-Dosoo, Business Consultant on the project for Electrochem. “We are excited about the Ada Songhor project because it has restored the balance between business and the area’s ecology. As a Ramsar site (wetland reserved for international environmental purposes), the birds have started coming from all over the world; and on the economic front more than 1,500 young people have been employed on the mine through a micro-credit facility developed by Electrochem. Women in the various communities have interest-free loans for their businesses, and fishing is back in full force on the lagoon,” Dzigbordi Kwaku-Dosoo said.
Current status of the Ada Songhor Salt Project
Electrochem has outlined four major steps for developing the salt pans in Ada. The first is restoration of the lagoon and the pans, which has been completed. The expansion of infrastructure and importation of evaporators is ongoing, with the company currently at circa 12% production.
The construction of an industrial bay to support logistics management and exports has been completed. This is now the largest in Africa.
The firm plans to also build a jetty that facilitates sea exports, and has already obtained permits necessary for the project. Further to the above, Electrochem plans on constructing a refinery to support the production of domestic salt for consumption and/or retail use.
The Chairman of Electrochem, Daniel Mckorley said: “We have invested our toil into this project, but we recognise that we still have some way to go. We are going to be Africa’s number-one producer of Salt, for both industrial and domestic use. Our plan is to make the activities of Songhor Salt benefit the people of Ada and the people of Ghana. My philosophy is simple: If we cannot use the minerals God has given us to make our people wealthy, then we will have failed God completely”.