26.01.2005 Business & Finance

Kaiser's offer was an opportunity to Ghana - Kufuor

26.01.2005 LISTEN

Accra, Jan. 26, GNA - President John Agyekum Kufuor on Wednesday said the offer by Kaiser Aluminium to the Government was an opportunity to use the Volta Aluminium Company (VALCO) Smelter as a basis to attract a new investor into the industry.

He said the new investor would be interested in partnership with the Government to develop a fully integrated Aluminium Industry in Ghana.

"When I accepted Kaiser's offer, I believed then and still believe that with the ownership of the Smelter in Ghana's hands, the nation could achieve the exploitation of our bauxite which our first President dreamed of and hoped for in 1962 but was never realised," he said.

President Kufuor was speaking at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Ghana and Alcoa, the world's leading producer and manager of primary aluminium, fabricated aluminium and alumina facilities, to develop an integrated aluminium industry in Ghana.

Parliament on Thursday October 28, 2004, approved an agreement between Ghana and Kaiser Aluminium and Chemical Corporation for the sale and purchase of VALCO for 18 million dollars.

The Government currently owns 90 per cent of the smelter with Alcoa owning the remaining 10 per cent.

The industry would include bauxite mining, alumina refining, aluminium production and upgrading of rail transportation infrastructure.

President Kufuor witnessed the ceremony at the Castle, Osu, when Papa Owusu Ankomah, Acting Attorney - General and Minister of Justice signed for Ghana while Mr Bernt Reitan, Executive Vice President of Alcoa and President of Alcoa's Primary Aluminium Division signed for the Company.

With the signing of the MOU, Alcoa would work with the Government to conduct expedited feasibility studies to be completed in 2006. President Kufuor said the success of the joint venture between Ghana and Alcoa should not only generate valuable foreign exchange to finance the country's economic development but also provide the basis for the much hoped for industrialisation of Ghana's economy.

He told the Management of Alcoa that they would find in Ghana a reliable, fair and understanding partner, saying: "I look forward to a future in which Ghana and Alcoa will work together for their mutual benefit."

Papa Owusu Ankomah said with the signing of the MOU, the vision by Ghana's First President Kwame Nkrumah for an integrated aluminium industry that had eluded Ghana for the past 45 years, would materialise under the second mandate of President Kufuor.

Mr Reitan said the MOU was an integral part of Alcoa's strategy to broaden its global presence in the primary business.

He said Ghana had the right mix of natural resources, power and people to create an integrated and globally competitive aluminium industry.

"We look forward to working with the Government of Ghana toward that goal," he said.