Steel is an alloy of iron with some percentage of carbon content. Predominantly, industries that construct power plants, bridges, pipelines, and manufacture automobiles, aircraft, trains, ships, harvesters, biomedical equipment, waste incinerators as well as other household products utilize steels. In one way or another, our standard of living relies on steel products as the various products mentioned generate, connect, store, distribute and transport essentials that bring sustenance, hope, and improve the quality of millions of lives globally.
Investing in steel production requires millions of dollars to build smelting plants. Also, competent human capital is needed at all levels. Honourable Kennedy Ohene Agyaponghas demonstrated top-notch competence and bravery to start steel production in Ghana. This isa bold ambition in line with Ghana’s industrialization agenda and local content participation in Ghanaian industries. Moreover, this is the first of its kind where an indigenous Ghanaian has ventured into such scientific and highly technical, innovative and competitive area of business dominated by foreigners and international companies.
On the Ghanaian market, there are several grades of steels available. The different forms and shapes include sheets, plates, bars, angle irons, square pipes, round pipes, beams, channels, and hollow sections. Undoubtedly, the metal sector of the Ghanaian economy relies heavily on the importation of steels. According to Global Edge, the trade statistics of Ghana shows that the country imported iron and steel articles at a tune of $ 925,408,556 in the year 2018. Despite the high cost of importation of steels into Ghana, welders and steel fabricatorsI have interacted with have also complained about the quality of steels on the Ghanaian market. The observations show that most of the steels imported into Ghana are of less-quality properties, thus, thestrength, hardness, ductility, weldability,durability, and toughness are not up to international required standards.
It would be a great advantage for Honourable Kennedy Ohene Agyapong to capitalize on these facts and give Ghana the best steel grades and forms according to international standards. Besides,other countries across the West African region and even the entire African continent stand to benefit from the steels from Ghana.Also, there is a window of opportunity for Honourable Kennedy Ohene Agyapong to lead a movement/professional body in the formation of an “Association of Ghana Steel and Metal Producers” to champion the affairs of steels and metals in Ghana and across the sub-region.
In addition to the job creation bit, it is obvious that a lot of industries (building and infrastructure, automotive and transportation, appliances, energy, shipbuilding, and heavy industry, etc.) and academia shall benefit from the steels made in Ghana. One of such industries in question is the welding industry. The opportunities envisioned include:
- Jobs for welders, steel fabricators and other professionals in the value chain.
- Accessibility to consumables for education and skills training of welders and fabricators.
- Collaborations between the steel industry and universities, and technical institutions for research and development of steels and its applications. Thus, bridging the gap between industry and academia.
- Service jobs for metallurgical laboratories.
- Investments in the manufacturing of steel products where companies who manufactureand those who shall engage in the manufacturing of steel productswould have a good selection of steel grades and forms. Product conceptualization for steel products will rise.
- Consumption of Ghana steels in the welding industrywill rise and subsequently help to reduce the importation of steels.
- More sustainable and efficient productsfrom various steel-using industries.
Most steel manufacturers across the globe start steel production plants as an individual or group of companies with 100% shares. Such companies later receive huge supportfrom the government and ultimately the government then acquires some shares in the company. Examples of such companies include SSAB of Sweden, SSAB Oy of Finland, Outokumpu of Finland, etc.If Finland depends on its technological industries (especially export activities of the steel industry) in maintaining a welfare state, Ghana can do the same because the nation has a base to start from.
Therefore, the Ghana government needs to support the activities of the steel plant established by Honourable Kennedy Ohene Agyapong and in the same veinconsider acquiring shares in the company. In that line of action,Ghana would eventually pride herself as having “Ghana Steels”, an iconic symbol that defines the processing and value addition of the iron ore and other extractive metals the nation has. Also, being a member of the African Continental free trade area (AfCFTA), Ghana stands the chance to lead the way in exports of “Ghana steels” and develop this area of business. Besides, Ghana would have access to sell “Ghana Steels” to a market of 1.2 billion people whose combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is US $3 trillion. It is about time we support our own, adopt strategies such as – Protect and Extend, Transform, Leverage and Build on new competences, and take advantages of the business landscape both domestic and international.
By: Dr. Emmanuel Afrane Gyasi, DSc.(Tech), PhD