Kwae (E/R) March 22, GNA - Sod has been cut for the commencement of work on a state-of-the-art palm oil refinery and fractionation plant at the Ghana Oil Palm Development Company(GOPDC) at Kwae in the Kwaebibirem district of the Eastern Region.
The 82 billion-cedi plant will have nominal capacity to treat 100 metric tonnes of crude palm oil per day, which is expandable to 150 tonnes per day.
Mr Alan Kyerematen, Minister of Trade, Industry and President's Special Initiative (PSI), who performed the sod cutting said the facility would assist in making Ghana self-sufficient in refined cooking oil that would lead to savings in foreign exchange.
The minister said the saving would be used to finance other development project to enhance the well being the people.
Mr Kyerematen noted that over the years, Ghana had relied almost exclusively on the export of primary commodities, the pricing of which the country had no control over. He said the economy had suffered frequent shocks and hiccups as a result of the worsening terms of trade on primary goods on the international market.
Mr Kyerematen said Ghana should stop exporting raw produce to feed factories in Europe, America and other parts of the world.
He said Ghana should rather undertake value-added manufacturing since that had become the index by which the wealth of a nation was measured.
Mr Kyerematen said the index for the whole of Africa was less than one per cent of that of the world.
The minister said the investment being made by GPODC underscored the confidence the company had in the current government and the viability of the PSI.
Mr Kyerematen noted that the fractionation plant would produce allied chemicals for the production of soap, paint, surfactant, rubber, candles, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals products, plastic, stabilizers and the processing of textiles and leather.
He expressed the government's appreciation to the African Development Bank for supporting the vital project with a loan of 7.14 million Euro, and that the presence of Mr Luciano Borim, Director, Private Sector Development of ADB indicated the importance the bank attached to the project.
The Managing Director of GOPDC, Mr J.C.E. Inkumsah said the company's 10 year development plan, which started in 2002 through 2012, involved the expansion of Kwae nucleus oil palm estate from 3,500 to 4,500 hectares.
He said plans were also advanced to increase the capacity of the palm kernel oil plant from 45 metric tonnes a day to 60 metric tonnes. Mr Inkumsah said this also involved an increase in oil storage capacity by additional 1,700 metric tonnes and the establishment of a new refinery and fractionation plant of 100 tonnes a day capacity. He said a new 3,500 hectares oil palm estate at Okumaning was began in 2002 and the company had planted 1,145 hectares of the crop and that the planting would be completed in 2005.
Mr Inkumsah said the development and support for 12,250 hectares out grower farms in both Okumaning and Kwae, would resume in 2006, while the Kwae estate replanting would start in 2006.