STORY: Nehemia Owusu Achiaw & Kwame Asare Boadu, Kumasi
A multi-million-cedi tractor assembling plant, jointly established by Zoomlion Ghana Limited and Mahindra and Mahindra Company of India, was last Friday inaugurated by President J.A. Kufuor.
As much as 70 per cent of tractor parts will be assembled at the plant, while 30 per cent will be imported from India.
The project is expected to sharpen the skills and competencies of artisans at the Suame Magazine in Kumasi and other parts of the country in metal fabrication, as well as provide unemployed youth with employable skills.
The plant, located on the premises of the former Kowus Motors and Suame Foundry, will also serve as a training ground for students from the metal fabrication departments of technical institutes, polytechnics and universities.
Other partners of the project are the ministries of Food and Agriculture, Trade, Industry and PSI and the Garages Association of Ghana.
The inauguration ceremony was cut short because of a heavy downpour.
The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu ll, has already allocated a 26-acre plot at Kodie in the Ashanti Region for the establishment of the huge assembling plant to serve as the headquarters of the project.
Inaugurating the plant, President Kufuor commended Zoomlion for the initiative and said the project would be beneficial for the agricultural and industrial development of the country.
The General Manager of Zoomlion Ghana Limited, Mrs Florence Larbi, expressed gratitude to the government for encouraging private companies such as Zoomlion and for promoting public-private sector partnership.
She said although Zoomlion was a waste management company, it had a metal fabrication unit which was responsible for the production of a majority of its tricycles.
She said the establishment of the metal fabrication plant was the driving force which motivated the management of the company to seek partnership with Mahindra and Mahindra of India to establish the assembling plant.
Mrs Larbi said the venture would create jobs for welders, steel benders, auto mechanics and apprentices from various garage associations across the country, as well as help the youth to benefit from technologies from other countries to develop.
In January 2008 the company trained 30 women in the operation of earth-moving equipment as part of the Waste and Sanitation Module of the National Youth Employment Programme.
Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, an accomplished heart surgeon, who chaired the ceremony, advised Zoomlion to work closely with other organisations such as the Suame Magazine Industrial Development Organisation (SMIDO), so that engineering, especially fabrication, manufacturing and machine tooling would gain root in Kumasi and many parts of the country.
He said no country had ever developed without acquiring the capacity to make machines and that the poverty in some countries was, indeed, a technology gap.
Professor Frimpong-Boateng said the middle-income economic status could only be attained in 2015 when the country focused on the development of its human capital, which was crucial in the knowledge-based economy.