The Suame Magazine in Kumasi, the biggest single industrial estate in West Africa, needs massive infusion of modern technology in its vehicular repairs cluster in order to fully harness its potential, a policy barometer for the Ashanti Region due to be launched in Kumasi on Thursday, has revealed.
The policy barometer, a copy of which has been made available to the Daily Graphic, noted that the Suame Magazine was driven by vehicular repairs but the failure to introduce technological advancements into the operations of artisans was seriously threatening the very existence of the entire industrial estate.
Sponsored by the Business Advocacy Challenge ( BUSAC) Fund, USAID and DANIDA, the policy document, which sought to scrutinise the economic fate of Kumasi in particular and the Ashanti Region at large with the view to seeking solutions to advance the region’s development, was prepared by Mr Nyaaba-Aweeba Azongo, a consultant to the Suame Magazine Industrial Development Organisation (SMIDO), an umbrella non-governmental organisation and development institution.
According to the document, there was an increasing rate of artisanal mechanic dropouts in the vehicular repair cluster and the striking indication of this was the ratio of mechanics that were drifting into driving commercial vehicles.
“It has been established that two out of five commercial drivers, particularly taxi drivers in the Kumasi metropolis are fitters. Commercial driving is the immediate recipient sector for dropout mechanics from the fitting industry.”
Furthermore, it noted that 92 per cent of artisans interviewed in a recent survey in the Suame Magazine attested to the fact that the fitting industry was fast eroding and the other alternative absorption sectors were driving (49 %), farming (11.2%), trading (29.9%), illegal gold mining (4.7%) and arms manufacturing (4.7%).
“This is a worrying scenario as the artisanal engineering skills are equally potential skills for criminal activities.
The artisanal engineering skills are a two-edged weapon, either you harness it for national development or you neglect it to destroy or reverse national development,” it said.
Against the background that the Suame Magazine is the manufacturing base of local pistols and other tools for technologically induced crimes, the situation becomes even more dangerous.
According to the document, what was disturbing was that there were available avenues to addressing the technological lapses but the problem had been the political will to achieve it.
It noted that if well-developed opportunities existed to link the Suame Magazine to the oil and mining sectors that would optimise the oil and mining economic prospects of Ghana.
Stressing the need for the transformation of the existing economic base of the magazine to create and sustain employment, the document pointed out that the current development dispensation of the region could be highly boosted if many of the youth were self-employed.
It was to address the numerous challenges facing the Suame Magazine that led to the proposed SMIDO-Otumfuo Industrial centre.
The centre is intended to build a multi-purpose modern industrial complex on a 1,000-acre land in the Atwima Nwabiagya District to serve as Ghana’s hub of industrialisation.
When established, the centre would offer the required framework to serve as the major investment enclave in Ashanti to promote both domestic and international private-public partnership arrangements.
The project would also support satellite artisanal engineering clusters in the Ashanti Region and the rest of the country.
A survey by the SMIDO in July 2012 on the prospects of relocation to a larger space showed 84 per cent of artisans preferred that a larger space was developed outside the current space.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic ahead of the launch of the document, Mr Azongo said what was left for the SMIDO-Otumfuo project was the lease on the land but expressed confidence that the promise given by Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, the Asantehene, to have the issue addressed, would materialise soon.
Source: Daily Graphic