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Press Review | Nov 30, 2004

EDITORIAL: Speed Up Ressurrection Of VALCO

GYE NYAME CONCORD

WHEN NEWS BROKE some months back that Kaiser Aluminium Corporation of America was no longer interested in operating the Volta Aluminium Company (VALCO), it seemed that the final nail had finally been driven into the coffin of the dream of the founding fathers for an industrialised Ghana.

That the gradual whittling away of the industrial master plan that began with the overthrow of the government of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah in 1966, when machinery imported for various factories were allowed to rust away at various sites across the country, had reached its zenith.

That gloom persisted for all true lovers of Ghana till a month ago when the news broke that the bidding process for the takeover of the VALCO was warming up to be very competitive, with three contending bids from the Aluminium Company of America (ALCOA), which already holds a 10 percent minority shares in the company, the BHP Billion of Australia, and Rusal Aluminium of Russia.

Dr. Charles Mensah, Resident Director of VALCO, who disclosed the state of the bidding process to a journalist, also said that the three “giants” of the global aluminium industry had indicated their readiness to fulfil the basic condition of establishing a bauxite refinery in Ghana to feed VALCO's Tema smelter.

The news that the elusive bauxite refinery was a condition precedent for the winning of VALCO was most exciting.

How can a nation with abundant bauxite deposits at Nyinahin and Abuakwa import alumina from abroad to feed the VALCO smelter?

Now those bauxite fields can be exploited to provide employment and needed development for the mining streams that would come on stream, making it possible for us to claim that we have an aluminium industry in the country.

GYE NYAME CONCORD was therefore excited when the the Government of Ghana indicated that it had purchased the company. But that is where our excitement ends. We pray that those in charge of the purchase realise the need to quickly parcel out the plant to an efficient and effective management team out of either one of the three companies or a partner company to revive the once buoyant entity as planned. There should be no delay; there should be no reason to think that after purchasing the company for $18 million, we can and should attempt to run it as a state. Let us not deceive ourselves. We need it revamped as soon as possible by those who have done it before and know how to, and not by a nation that has consistently shown that it can't manage almost anything – not even an airline or shipping company such as Ghana Airways or Black Star line. Those managing the sale process therefore deserve all the luck they need as Ghanaians expect that they would do their duty diligently, always keeping the national interest supreme.

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