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11.06.2007 Business & Finance

Free Zone Companies Bag $2.5bn

By D. Guide
Free Zone Companies Bag $2.5bn

Companies operating under the Ghana Free Zones Board (GFZB) have generated a total of $2.5 billion from their operations since the programme started 11 years ago.

Last year, about $509.9 million came from enterprises, which now number 150, under the Board.

This came to light when the GFZB organised a business forum at Koforidua in the Eastern region last Wednesday for prospective investors and frontline companies working in association with the Board, to educate them and also learn their problems.

The seminar, attended by the Omanhene of New Juaben Traditional Area, Daasebre Prof. Emeritus Oti Boateng, was also to afford the prospective investors the opportunity to learn about the advantages under the Free Zones in the Eastern Region, which currently had nine single factory zones.

The companies registered as single factory zones in the region were Blue Skies at Nsawam, Golden Exotics at Asutuare, Pinora at Asamankese, Birim Wood at Akim Oda and Coppon Wood also at Akim Oda.

The rest were A.K. Wood at Akim Oda, Intravenous Infusion at Koforidua, Maa Grace Garments also at Koforidua and Crystal Lake Fish at Dodi Asante.

Addressing the participants, the Deputy Executive Secretary of GFZB in charge of Marketing and Promotion, Ms Rachel Esi Amable said it was important that local companies take advantage of the fertile ground created by the government under the Free Zones to operate companies that were export-oriented.

She noted since the Free Zones came into being under Act 504, many foreigners had taken advantage to establish companies under it, and were making great headway.

She said the government conceived the idea, which was 100 percent private-sector driven, to help create employment and also boost the image of Ghana abroad in terms of goods being exported to other countries.

"At the moment, companies operating under the Free Zones are employing over 35,000 nation-wide while in the Eastern region about 3,000 people are being employed by the nine companies," she said.

According to the Deputy Executive Secretary, there were two divisions of location of industries under the Free Zones and named the locations as the 'enclaves' and 'single factory zones'.

She indicated that currently there were four enclaves, namely, the Tema enclave, the Takoradi enclave, Shama eclave and the Kumasi enclave.

Shama enclave, which had the largest acreage of land- about 3,000acres- had not seen any development.

According to her, the Kumasi enclave which covered 1,099 acres would be used mainly for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) development and as a result, the plot of land had been acquired strategically close to the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology to provide the necessary expertise to enhance its development.

She mentioned the areas where people could invest in as ICT, agro-processing, seafood processing, metal and hand tool fabrication, floriculture, jewellery/handicraft production and textile/apparel manufacturing.

Others were pharmaceuticals, light industry/assembly plant and ethnic beauty products.

Ms Amable entreated investors to also come to invest in service provision areas like development of the enclaves, roads, water, electricity and warehousing in the enclaves.

Ms Amable told the seminar that a license fee of $2,000 would be charged for people going into manufacturing, $3,000 for service and $5,000 for commercial.

The New Juaben Omanhene, who chaired the function, gave the assurance that chiefs would get the land for such a purpose since it would not only help create employment but also open up the region.

He advocated for a law to bind companies operating in any community to set aside a certain percentage of its profit towards the development of that community.