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29.08.2002 Feature Article

Printing in Ghana: Then and Now

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There are many ways of communicating with people. Among these are television and radio as the main means of mass communication. However, printing still provides the greatest source of news, information and knowledge known to our planet. What Is Printing? Printing, which is defined as “any several techniques for producing texts and illustrations in color on any substrate and in a desired number of identical copies” plays an important role in the economic, political, educational, scientific and technological affairs of human beings the world over. For instance, not only do we read newspapers, magazines and books of all kinds for knowledge, information as well as for entertainment, but we must have labels also to tell us what is inside a bottle, tin or package, what music is recorded on a disc or written on a sheet, even what program is on television. In fact, printing enters every aspect of our daily lives. Since the invention of printing from movable types by Johann Gutenberg in Mainz, Germany around 1450, printing has justified its importance in the dissemination of knowledge. History of Printing in Ghana: The history of printing in Ghana dates back to the time of early missionary work in this country. As far back as 1851, the Methodist Mission had opened a printing house at Cape Coast. This press was also made use of by the Basel Mission. A man of Abura Dunkwa in the Central Region, Hutton Brew, was the first African to establish a printing press in Ghana. He started operation of his press in 1874. The early 1900s and the late 1930s saw a tremendous increase in the volume of printing work done in this country. This was due to the increase in industrial, commercial, and other activities of the government and also developments in education and health. Since then, printing has become an important aspect of publishing industry in Ghana. However, most of these Printing Houses are concentrated in the nation's capital-Accra. Printing and Print-Buying in Accra: There are over 150 Printing Houses in Accra. They can be categorized into 5 groups. Group one comprises Presses which are well equipped with printing machines(both letterpress and offset lithographic), composing and photographic equipment as well as adequate bindery machines. They do general printing, bookwork, magazine/newspaper printing and some security printing. The Presses in this category include the Assemblies of God Literature Centre Limited, the Advent Press, the Presbyterian Press, Commercial Associates Limited, Wisdom Press Limited, Danmof Printing Works Limited and Eddy Williams (Mfg.) Limited. Group two is made up of Presses with uncommon or special printing machines such as photo-gravure and/or computer printing machines. They are specialized in either packaging or security printing such as printing of stamps or both. The Graphic Packaging Limited (former), the Danmof Printing Works Limited, the Accra Catholic Press and the Wisdom Press Limited are classified with this group. Group three consists of Printing Houses which have only letterpress or only offset-lithographic or both but are not well equipped with bindery machines. However, these Printing Houses could do general printing, bookwork as well as color work. They include Victoriaborg Press, New Times Corporation, Graphic Commercial Printing and the Anglican Press. The next group comprises presses set up for special assignments such as the printing of football pools coupons for the Football Pools Authority and the printing of stationary and security materials such as passports for the Ghana Government. The Printing Houses in this category include the Football Pools Press and the Victoriaborg Press. Presses put in the fifth group are those found with just enough printing machines and composing facilities. They however have one or two binding facilities. Printing Houses in this category have no photographic equipment of their own. They therefore buy photographic services from elsewhere. Print buying in Accra could be easy and effective with the knowledge of the outlined categories of presses in this easy. I hope costumers and would be print buyers in Ghana will benefit from it. Investing in Printing in Ghana: As could be seen from the above account, Printing Houses are packed in Accra at the disadvantage of other areas in Ghana. The reason is not far fetched. Business is mostly concentrated in Accra. A few investors have taken the risk to put up printing presses in Kumasi, Tema, Takoradi. Ho, Koforidua, Cape Coast, Agona Swedru, Tamale, Wa and Bolgatanga. Giving the fact that the first African owned printing press was set up in Abura Dunkwa in the Central Region, the possibility and viability of printing presses flourishing in the regions as they do in the nation's capital-Accra could not be overstated. I therefore encourage Ghanaians, especially those living abroad who want to invest in Ghana to give consideration to going into printing in the regions. Jobbing such as the printing of posters (funeral, religious crusades, entertainment), wedding cards, announcements, thank-you-cards and ordinary receipts could be very lucrative in such areas. I also call on the Ghana Government to give some tax relief to printing industries set up in the regions to encourage investment in printing in the urban areas of the country. Such investment will create jobs for people in the regions and ease the pressure on Accra as people flock to the nation's capital for jobs. Joe Kingsley Eyiah (Teacher, Brookview Academy, Toronto) By

Joe Kingsley Eyiah
Joe Kingsley Eyiah, © 2002

The author has 27 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: JoeKingsleyEyiah

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