Ayariga tours Free Zones Enclave
Mr. Mahama Ayariga, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, has toured the Free Zones Enclave in Tema to discuss issues pertaining to the operations of the manufacturing companies.
Companies visited are Barry Callebaut and Cargill Cocoa processing companies, Ghana Specialty Fats Industries Limited, Red Sea Housing and Octoglow Limited.
Interacting with managements of the companies, Mr. Ayariga said the free zone’s concept was an excellent platform for industrial investment and an opportunity to gain access to lands free from litigation, provision of infrastructure, access to water, roads and internet connectivity.
The free zone is export oriented therefore, 70 per cent of the manufactured products are exported to put Ghana on the world market. Thirty per cent of production is absolved by the local market.
The Sector Minister stressed that the citizenry should be more aggressive in attracting investors into the country, and with regard to the challenges of the tenents (manufacturers) in the zone, government was looking at the prospects of gas development for the production of electricity.
He was optimistic that operations of the Free Zones Board in partnership with Ghana Investment Promotion Council (GIPC), Ghana Export Promotion council (GEPC), would attract more investments to create more jobs and boost the export sector.
Mr. Ayariga said world-wide, there had been a review on the concept therefore government would do all it can to make the enclaves viable and resourceful for optimum production.
He said the concentration of such manufacturing companies in the area would benefit ancillary companies within the enclaves.
Mr. Ayariga noted that interventions were being made by government to provide these companies with infrastructure, access to land, water, roads and sewerage system for their industrial activities.
Mr. Ernest Owusu-Afari, Executive Director of Land Investments Industry Estates, and a representative of Octoglow (enclave developers) said a South African company would soon establish Ghana as its regional distributive centre for anti-retroviral drugs throughout the continent.
Their office currently under construction is located within the enclave.
Mr. Ayariga also toured banana plantations of Volta River Estate Limited (VREL) at Akrade and Golden Exotic Limited at Asutsuare, all in the Eastern Region.
VREL covers 250 hectares Golden Exotic 1,200 hectares and both produce the Cavendish variety of banana with expected annual production of 6,000 tonnes for VREL and 60,000 tonnes for Golden Exotic company.
It was to familiarise with the production process, their operations and discuss problems and challenges facing the managements.
Mr. Ayariga said although banana production was a lucrative business, it required huge investment, unfortunately, government had not been able to support the out-grower’s scheme to assist local farmers in the country to produce on a commercial basis.
This, he said, was due to the integrated nature of banana production chain, and the required tonnage to be produced.
Mr. Ayariga therefore called on investors to venture into commercial operations of banana production to invest and pledged government’s commitment to provide the needed assistance to put the country on the world market in the banana production.
He announced that government would consider investing in irrigation infrastructure.
Mr. Ayariga said although banana producing companies in the country were facing challenges as a result of the opening to South American markets and the preferences they enjoyed due to their long history of production coupled with the removal of the quota and reduced tariffs, the European Union (EU) had agreed to provide some support known as the Banana Accompany Measures.
He said these funds would be provided to countries which suffered as a result of the opening of markets to the South American banana producing companies to make them more competitive.
Mr. Ayariga said government would lobby for more of such funds for banana producing companies such as VREL and Golden Exotic to invest in areas that would assist them to become more competitive.
He assured the managements that when government accessed enough funds, it would provide assistance to reduce the cost they incurred in transportation and accommodation to boost the level of productivity of the workers.
Mr. Ayariga noted that banana production in the country had high employment potentials and advised that with the provision of funds, the companies should employ more workers within the surrounding communities to reduce unemployment in the country.
He was hopeful that with the commencement of manufacturing of fertilizers from gas released from the Jubilee Field, the cost of fertilizers would reduce to boost agricultural production in the country, to make agriculture the mainstay of the economy.
Mr. Ayariga said the Ministry of Trade and Industry would continue to work in partnership with African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) group of countries to make sure the EU continued to extend such assistance.
Mr. Anthony Kofi Blay, Director of Agriculture, VREL, and Mr. Guillaume Ranson, Banana Production Manager of Golden Exotic, briefed Mr. Ayariga on their operations.