Vice President, John Dramani Mahama on Thursday launched a multi-million Ghana cedi talent hunt project and a technical institute in Kumasi.
The project is to give Information Communication Technology (ICT) in artisanal training to Suame Magazine artisans in Kumasi.
Amidst heavy police presence at the Suame Magazine, an industrial village housing about 20,000 artisans dealing in metal scraps, vehicular repairs and spare parts, the Vice President was given a rousing welcome by residents and NDC youth supporters most of whom shouted 'Obama', 'Obama' amidst drumming and dancing.
The project, a joint collaboration between the technology consultancy centre of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi and the Kofi Annan ICT centre in Accra, is to help give skill training and capacity building to the artisans in that informal industrial sector to help them meet modern challenges in the global automobile industry.
The capacity training which has three components covering basic artisanal engineering and designing through ICT, Auto diagnostics and business management through ICT, is being funded by DANIDA, USAID, PFID and the Business sector Advocacy Challenge (BUSAC) and Suame Magazine Industrial Development Organisation (SMIDO).
Launching the project under the theme, 'Harnessing the potential of artisanal engineering for Ghana's industrialization', the Vice President said there was the urgent need to focus attention on harnessing our resources for the establishment of an institute to save the Suame Magazine from total collapse precipitated by modern technological innovations and sophistication in the automobile industry.
He said, the Suame Magazine, the largest informal sector village in the country is also a major centre for vehicle repairs attracting vehicles not only from Ghana but also from neighbouring countries in the west Africa sub region, has a work force popularly referred to as 'Fitters' and are finding it difficult to cope with new auto models as a result of their lack of formal education.
“This is so because there is no existing institutional training centre to provide the requisite knowledge and skills for them to keep pace with the ever changing global auto technology and vehicular repair to enable them remain competitive”.
Mr Mahama said there was the urgent need for the retraining and retooling of this pool of talents to make them productive and remain in business in order to stem the imminent danger of aggravating unemployment, poverty and increase crime if their businesses collapse.
Mr Aweda Azongo Consultant for the project, said the Suame Magazine which has existed for 80 years, keeps growing on its own without any planned intervention by the government, a situation which can lead to its total collapse.
He explained that the industrial hub has five clusters, all of which revolve around one principal sub cluster, which is the vehicular repair cluster, adding that if particular attention is not given to institutional training to boost this area; its collapse can affect the other revolving sub clusters.
Mr Dil Rachmeler, Fund Manager for BUSAC thanked SMIDO and the other collaborators for the project, saying that, the project was the most successful grants out of the 362 grants BUSAC has executed in Ghana.
He expressed the hope that Suame Magazine would be the best industrial hub in the whole of West Africa.
Miss Dorothy Gordon of the Kofi Annan ICT centre pledged the centre's readiness to demystify ICT training to make it attractive to the artisans most of whom feel they can not receive the training owing to their low educational background.