Interview: Kojo Aduhene

What role can industrial parks play in developing Ghana’s industrial capacity?

KOJO ADUHENE: Industrial development should be left to the domestic private sector, as local companies are best able to assess the risks of operating in Ghana and are more open to accepting those risks. For starters, the complications of navigating land acquisition are overwhelming for an outside player, considering the lack of clear-cut rules and land ownership documentation in the country. Industrial parks will provide confidence to potential investors. In addition, industrial parks offer an agglomeration of services, including roads, electricity and sewage treatment, all concentrated in one place. Lastly, the zones enable companies to form associations, which allows these companies greater leverage when it comes to matters involving the government.

Where do you see new industrial parks emerging?

ADUHENE: We expect the location of future industrial parks to be determined by the availability of labour and raw materials, as well as the convenience of transportation. They have to be commercially viable and satisfy market needs. Indeed, an industrial park was opened in June 2019 by LMI Holdings in the Dawa area, which is situated in the Accra-TemaDawa nexus. The Western Region is slated to see the opening of one or two parks, as it is a good hub for petroleum services and trade. The Ashanti Region is attractive since it is positioned in the centre of the country and boasts mining activity and a natural transport corridor that culminates in a number of important road networks meeting in Kumasi. Lastly, the north, with its agricultural and mining activity, provides opportunities for an industrial park that could become a hub for the Sahel region. Tax incentives will be instrumental to the emergence of more industrial parks. The government must also invest, most notably in road and railway infrastructure.

How could the concept of smart cities address the challenges facing major centres in Ghana?

ADUHENE: Ghana’s urban centres are overwhelmed by a number of pressing issues. Key challenges include high levels of congestion and overcrowding, as well as the inability of municipal authorities to systematically collect taxes. Thus, we need to start building cities that interact with officials and citizens, and that can share information with an interconnected system of traffic lights, communication systems and water supply. Such a city could better understand, and thus cater to, the needs of the population and also enable officials to collect payments more effectively. The ideal Ghanaian smart city would be medium-sized and predominantly accommodate college-educated people and players in high-tech industries.

Which key priorities must be addressed to improve the industrial supply chain?

ADUHENE: The existing logistics infrastructure and, most importantly, the current logistics regulatory environment pose a major challenge to the development of the industrial supply chain. When it comes to regional trade, an enabling regulatory environment with low Customs and ease of cross-border trade already exists. Stakeholders need to realise that industrial development in Ghana requires improved domestic connectivity. There are untapped opportunities for advanced transport systems in the inland waterways: we have an inland waterway of up to 450 km, which could directly link the import and export zones in Tema to the agricultural centres in Tamale. This could help reduce the currently high level of food wastage that results from poor transport links. A water transport link could be realised at a low cost and be much more efficient. Within 28 hours one Volta River barge can match the volume carried by 150 articulated trucks over three to four days.