GHANA'S move to build the private sector to be a real engine of growth is gradually gaining roots in many sectors of the economy, especially in the Ashanti Region.
The mining, quarrying and construction sections of the industrial sector have over the decade been some of the fastest-growing sections of the industrial sector of the economy of Ghana, with the Ashanti Region playing no mean a role in this area.
One of the challenges in Ghana is the generation of adequate employment opportunities for the increasing number of the unemployed and the underemployed youth.
The booming and dynamic mining sector has not contributed significantly to the employment creation objective of the government. This has been due to inadequate initial financial outlay to purchase equipment and plant, a lack of support for the private sector and the modernisation and application of capital-intensive modes of production. The openings in employment opportunities in the industrial sector have come largely from construction activities.
Efforts to expand and improve the quality of construction materials must, therefore, be viewed as contributing to the provision of unemployment, especially in the rural areas.
A major constraint to the road construction sector, playing its critical role as a source of employment in the rural areas for the semi-skilled and unskilled, has been a lack of established domestic and indigenous industries producing the raw material requirements of the industry.
Even basic inputs such as quarry aggregates tend to be in short supply. It is for that reason that the establishment of the Naachiaa Quarry and Granite Limited at Barekese has come at the right time to produce high quality construction materials to meet the growing demand of the road and building industry in Ghana and beyond.
In the past, availability of good quality quarry materials for the road and building industry were limited by the unavailability of world-class sophisticated quarry equipment to produce and meet the huge demand in the industry.
Over the past decade, contractors and important road and building projects in the Ashanti Region and indeed, the Kumasi catchment area have suffered unnecessary delays for a lack of quarry aggregates. The establishment of Naachiaa Quarry and Granite at Barekese, a rural town in the Ashanti Region, with one of the largest and state-of-the-art three-stage Quarry Plant in Africa intends to change the trend and to give contractors in the Central and Northern regions of Ghana, the ‘peace' to execute all contracts on time.
Naachiaa Quarry and Granite Limited (NAAQUA) is a subsidiary of Naachiaa Group of Companies, with the objective of producing high quality quarry aggregates of all the different sizes for the road and building industry.
While the short-term objective is to cater for central and northern Ghana, the quarry, over the medium to long term, intends to serve the neighbouring West African sub-region, as well as manufacture high quality granite tiles for the Ghanaian market.
The 'granite'part of the company’s name is, therefore, a reflection of the long-term intent to give consumers the freedom to buy locally manufactured granite materials and save them from going through the ordeal of ordering cheap quality granite tiles from outside and with the consequential breakage associated with the conveyance of imported breakable granite tiles over long distances.
The other primary objective of the company is to create employment in the rural area to minimise rural–urban migration and improve the rural economy.
The location of the quarry at Barekese in the Atwima Nwabiagya District within the broad catchment area of the Kumasi metropolis, where the bulk of the quarry aggregates may be required for road and building projects, is significant.
Safety, health, environmental and work discipline are cardinal in the operations of such companies. That is why the company has provided safety training to create awareness among the workforce. Regular safety meetings are held to ensure that incidents are pre-empted and reported through the awareness created. This is to ensure maximum safety and avoid accidents.
To protect the environment, repair and maintenance of the plant are carried out in a safe and properly organised manner with no or minimum impact on the environment, through the avoidance of lubricants and oil spillage.
According to Mr Claude Osei-Agyemang, the General Manager of Naachiaa Group of Companies, the plant could deliver all the quarry requirements of major projects in the country.
The project, which is the brainchild of Dr Kwame Appiah Poku, an industrialist, entrepreneur, philanthropist and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Naachiaa Group of Companies, was set up to provide employment opportunities for the rural people and satisfy the quarry aggregate needs of road and building contractors.
Competition is good. Already, there are about five competitors for the quarry aggregate market in the Ashanti Region, who are barely able to keep up with the demand, consequently starving very important national projects of quarry products.
However, production of quarry chippings/aggregates, which is the core raw material for infrastructural projects in the country, has never been enough to meet the nation’s huge demand. The low-production capacity of existing quarry operators in the Ashanti Region, coupled with the high demand for quarry aggregates in the country, has always resulted in long queues for supplies.
That problem leaves most of the projects meant to meet critical deadlines far behind schedule with huge financial losses, to the detriment of the Ghanaian economy.
A major objective of the government’s poverty alleviation programme is the creation of industrial ventures in the rural areas so as to create a balanced development of the nation, that is why Naachiaa Quarry and Granite Company seeks to contribute to the national development agenda.
The project, in addition to creating employment opportunities in a rural area and thereby contributing towards minimising the rural-urban exodus of unemployed youth, whose presence in the urban centres constitute a potential social unrest, is also a major contributor to the coffers of the Atwima Nwabiagya District through the payment of property rate and royalties.
The project provides full-time employment for more than 30 unskilled labourers and artisans, who hail from the rural Barekese town, thereby opening the much needed direct employment opportunities for the rural community.