THE planned fully-fledged integrated aluminium industry in Ghana will be accelerated in earnest early next year when Alcoa and the NPP government finalise the negotiations for the deal in December this year.
This was disclosed by Trade and Industry Minister Alan Kyeremanten when he briefed news-persons at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra Tuesday night after President John A. Kufuor and his entourage returned from a trade and investment trip from the United States and United Kingdom.
Checks made by The Statesman show that preliminary work has already started at the Kyebi bauxite site.
Mr Kyeremanten said President Kufuor met the leaders of Alcoa in the US and they agreed to facilitate and accelerate the first phase of the integrated aluminium industry. “They are working with the government to start the implementation of the bauxite mining project in Kyebi and also to develop an aluminium smelter plant which will use the bauxite to be converted into alumina. When this is done then the raw material base for use by Alcoa will be readily available in this country,” he said.
He said if this project becomes a reality that would be the beginning of a major industrial revolution in the country. He said the President met representatives of Cagel, one of the leading cargo processing companies in the world.
“Cagel is currently engaged with negotiations with Ghana Cocoa Board to set up a major cocoa processing plant [in Kumasi]. What is left to be agreed on is the contractual details in respect of the supply of cocoa beans. So it is almost certain this will also become reality,” he stated.
In another press briefing, Kwabena Adjepong said the US Secretary for Housing and Urban Development met President Kufuor and offered to assist the implementation of a mortgage programme to support social housing and housing for lower income groups in Ghana.
Mr Adjepong said after the President's discussions with President George Bush, he made clear his commitment to accelerate the pace of deliberations and was hopeful that Ghana could achieve a compact with the MCA by the end of the year, or at worse by the first quarter of 2006. “This will allow the release of funds amounting to close to US$300 million to support and modernise agriculture,” he added.
On the London trade and investment roundtable, he said the speakers had a lot of recommendations for the government for introducing many reforms, especially in the legal, judiciary and fiduciary framework. “They were happy about the implementation of the new commercial courts which the investors felt was in the direction and will give them comfort to be able to invest in Ghana,” he said. He observed that the trip was very important because it showcased Ghana in a positive light as one of the success stories of Africa. “It provided a bridge head and a platform for the image of Ghana to be enhanced in the western media,” he said.