Three decades of promotion of small scale industries in Ghana

batikThe Government of Ghana established in 1985 the National Board for small scale industries, NBSSI, the apex institution for the development of small scale industries SSI, under the then Ministry of Industries Science and Technology, MIST. The Board was established to plan and programme SSI operations to create jobs and wealth for the people.

Promotional activities of the Board included programmes for utilisation of local raw materials, upgrading traditional technologies, application of indigenous appropriate technologies and transfers of foreign technologies, subcontracting manufacturing operations, facilitating access to financial credits, developing internal and external markets for Ghanaian manufactured products through participation in Trade Fairs.

The Board created offices and Business Advisory Centres (BCAs) in all the regions. It embarked on entrepreneurship development as a vital promotional tool to strengthen the operations of the SSI sector.

Young Ghanaians were sponsored to acquire skills as trainer motivators at the Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship Development. Products of the SSI sector were demonstrated at the First Ghana Industry and Technology Fair, INDUTECH 86,   in 1986. They expressed the creativity of Ghanaians in all the sectors of Industry and captured the focal theme of the Fair.

Regional pavilions of the Board exhibited diverse products: processed foods, garments and textiles, cosmetics, metal works products, agricultural processing machinery, biogas production, solar dryers, packaged herbal medical products, wood products, non metallic products (cement, ceramics, beads, etc.) and handicrafts.

Three decades of nurturing micro and small scale enterprises have produced industrial capacities which are members of the Association of Ghana Industries. Entrepreneurship training progra-mmes and provision of credit financing have covered hundreds of various SSI. Over 90% of registered businesses in Ghana are in the small and medium enterprises, SMEs sector employing over 80 per cent of industrial employment. Globally, the enormous potential of SSI in job creation cannot be overemphasized.

There are myriads of SMEs in industrialising economies of Asia. For example, Taiwan has over one million SMEs employing 70% of total workforce. SMEs account for greater part of all companies in Japan and contribute decisively in the overall Japanese economic growth. In Ghana, in the last decade, the tempo of creation of industrial employment opportunities relative to population growth has declined. However, there is significant increase in skilled manpower and graduates from the Universities, Polytechnics and Technical schools.

There are a number of areas we need to focus on to yield greater results from the NBSSI. For instance, the promotional capacity of NBSSI should be strengthened to grow more SSI especially the new generation of young graduate entrepreneurs to absorb the population of unemployed.

More jobs can be created through tolling arrangements, partnerships and subcontracting of production units. For example, agricultural processing machinery manufacturers can subcontract production of various components and parts to small scale foundries and machine workshops.

In general, the agro-based industries have been uneven in achieving economic targets in the midst of globalisation of the Ghanaian markets. Some of the industries have failed eventually to survive in the marketplace.

Thousands of skilled workforce in the production of Bonsa tyre, Volta corned beef, jute bags for packaging cocoa, canned fish and fruit juices have consequently lost their livelihoods.

Some abandoned industries are being revived: the GIHOC Footwear Company and the Komenda Sugar Factory. Restructuring of production operations and special incentives may be considered for sensitive industries, for example, revival of jute sacks production for packaging cocoa beans for export, Bonsa tyre production and cotton production for the garment and textile industries.

To secure the supply of cotton and jobs in the garment and textile industries, MIST in 1985 facilitated the dissolution of the Cotton Development Board and the formation of a private company, the Ghana Cotton Company Agro-industrial processing companies may expand or diversify operations to process mangoes and other horticultural products, cashew nuts, sheabutter, tuber crops, fish and meat.

New capacities can be created to process cocoa, the main raw commodity export of Ghana. The scale of processing and marketing channels of the major cocoa processing companies, Cocoa Processing Company, CPC, Nestle Ghana Limited and Cadbury Ghana Limited are not commensurate with the total production of cocoa beans in Ghana.

The Golden Tree chocolate, the award winning product at International Trade Fairs may spur on CPC to expand production to reach more consumers worldwide.

The Ghana Investment Promotion Centre and NBSSI should promote new investments in small scale cocoa processing plants in the rich cocoa growing districts to produce cocoa powder, cocoa butter, cocoa liquor, cocoa beverages and confectionery. The export-led development policy of Government as part of the strategies to boost foreign exchange earnings is an important drive to meet the unemployment challenges.

The policy presents radical challenges to NBSSI and Ghana Export Promotion Authority to spearhead aggressive search for marketing channels for Ghanaian manufactured products. In pursuance of this policy, industries need to appraise critically their operations to employ efficient and competitive technologies and focus on areas of the country’s comparative advantage.

Ghanaian manufacturing Companies must evolve into an era of entrepreneurship to place emphasis on the marketplace to achieve steady growth, create jobs and wealth for Ghana.

The National Board for small Scale Industries, NBSSI has built a dynamic promotional capacity for the development of micro and small scale industries in the past three decades. The nation is on the threshold of economic transformation which should drive SSI on to higher growth exploiting the rich natural resources to benefit the people.

By Prof. Francis Acquah

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