The Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen yesterday, inaugurated an $80 million steel manufacturing factory at the Larkpelu Village in the Ningo-Prampram District in the Greater Accra Region.
The factory, which is under the One District, One Factory (1D1F) initiative seeks to transform the structure of the economy from one dependent on production and export of raw materials to a value-added industrialised economy, driven primarily by the private sector.
Inaugurating the factory, Mr Kyerematen said, one of the new strategic industries government was developing was the iron and steel industry.
According to him, the country had large deposits of iron ore and manganese which when combined together would produce steel, hence the need to develop it.
“Government is determined to diversify the economy away from gold and cocoa,” he said.
Mr Kyerematen indicated that, the factory was important because it had the potential in exporting goods and generating foreign exchange, saying “We need to be talking about export development because it is only when you earn foreign exchange that you can support your foreign currency.”
He stated that government was offering incentives to both local and foreign investors under the 1D1F Programme.
“1D1F companies enjoy five years tax holiday, duty free from bringing in machinery and equipment, exempted from local taxes and levies and exempted from paying duties on raw materials for production,” he noted.
In addition, Mr Kyerematen said, at the local level, Municipal District Assemblies (MDAs) were required as a matter of policy to support companies under 1D1F initiative in extending infrastructural facilities such as road, electricity and water to support the projects.
He said, government’s focus in moving beyond aid was to attract both local and foreign private capitals to support the country’s development agenda.
Mr Kyerematen commended management of the factory for directly and indirectly creating employment, adding that “the most critical challenge confronting us as a country is to create job opportunities particularly for our youth.”
“Every year in this country, over 300,000 people graduate from our tertiary institutions. This initiative has the potential of providing direct and indirect jobs for over 10,000 people,” he added.
Mr Mike Mukesh Thakwani, Chairman of B5Plus Limited said his company was having the biggest distribution network in the country with 11 branches and more than 1,000 distribution networks.
According to him, the factory presently can produce 30,000 tonnes of pre- fabrication material for a month and could double it immediately with the new infrastructure to 60,000 tonnes pre-fabrication material.
Mr Thakwani added that, the factory would be able to save the country $100million in foreign exchange and bring more foreign exchange by exporting the goods to neighbouring countries.
He pleaded with government to put immediate ban on importation of any form of fabrication material and stop sub-standard goods from getting unto the market saying “we are able to produce quality material at a competitive rate and supply to the whole of West Africa.”
Mr Thanwani commended his workers for their commitment and support towards work.
BY ABEDUWAA LUCY APPIAH