NANA ADDO Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) presidential candidate, has said that the country' partnership with VALE do Rio Doce of Brazil, the second largest mining company and owner of the largest alumina refinery in the world, and the Norsk Hydro Aluminium Company, the largest aluminium company in Europe, will see the birth of the first integrated aluminium industry in Africa.
Speaking at the launch of his Industrial Policy Statement at the VALCO Smelter in Tema as part of a day's visit to the facility, Akufo-Addo noted that the project starts with bauxite mines at Kyebi and Nyinahin, both to be linked by rail lines to the alumina refinery site in Tema near VALCO.
He further noted that under the project a new smelter with a capacity of about 500,000 metric tons of aluminium per year would be constructed in Takoradi. This, he stressed, would raise the total production of aluminium in Ghana to one million tons per year, the largest capacity in Africa so far.
The flag bearer pointed out that the project would attract a total investment of $7.5billion within the next five to seven years while it would directly generate thousands of employment and indirectly generate hundreds of thousands of secondary jobs within small and medium scale enterprises.
He remarked that apart from the jobs to be created, exports from the project would yield about $2billion a year, with the value addition to the downstream industries expected to generate another $8 billion a year, equivalent to nearly half of the country's GDP.
Nana Akufo-Addo observed that while some people in the country disagreed with the Kufuor administration for acquiring VALCO, he noted that it was evident that events had vindicated that decision, which will in future be seen as one of the most far-sighted in the country's history.
He said that for the implementation and supervision of such huge investment, the NPP government was to introduce a bill in Parliament to give legal backing to the creation of an Integrated Aluminium Authority (IAA), which will be responsible for regulating the growth of the industry.
He mentioned that he was fully committed to the management of the plant and will give it his full support should he assume the office of president in January 2009.
He described iron ore as the 'mother's milk' of heavy manufacturing, saying iron is the main material from the building of railway lines to the manufacture of cars and other heavy equipment.
He noted that with the existence of a local iron ore facility, all would be set for the construction of railway lines that will change the cost and efficiency of the country's transportation system in significant ways.
Touching on the country's recent oil discovery, Nana Akufo-Addo remarked that it gives the country a perfect combination of natural resources that puts Ghana in the position to be a significant industrial economy, noting that with the oil find, the country would no longer need to spend $1billion to $2 billion per year importing crude oil.
He however stated that the power of crude oil to affect the nation's economy lies not just with its production and use for obvious things, but also its use as a starting point for the production of other things.
He emphasised that much as Ghana as a country must exploit the resources to create jobs to earn foreign exchange and develop the country's economy, there was the need to be alert to the dangers of environmental pollution, of dislocation of population and, ultimately, the depletion of the resources.
Earlier in his welcome address, Mr. Emmanuel Lartey, Managing Director of the facility, noted that the construction of the VALCO Smelter was started in 1964 and the first aluminium to be poured was in 1967 with three pot lines in operation.
He said the plant could currently boast of five pot lines which work all day throughout the year with a designed capacity of 200,000 tonnes primary aluminium per annum.
He said the primary objective of the Integrity Aluminium Authority project was to practically integrate aluminium industry in the country, comprising first the mining of bauxite, refining the bauxite to produce alumina, smelting to convert the alumina to aluminium and fabricating to produce shaped components for the use of consumers.
The NPP flag bearer and his entourage which included Alan Kyeremanten, Hon. Mike Ocquaye, Arthur Kennedy, Yaw Osafo Maafo and Ambassador Nyaho Nyaho-Tamakloe as well as some national and regional executives of the party, were later conducted round by Mr. George Dodd, Deputy Managing Director in charge of operations at the plant.
From Razak Mardorgyz Abubakar, Tema