Melcom to build free zones enclave

BY: Samuel K. Obour

Melcom Ghana Limited is to develop and operate a free zones enclave, similar to those in Tema and Takoradi, in the Northern Region.

The retail chain has already applied for a developer's licence from the Ghana Free Zones Board (GFZB), the managers of the country's free zones programme, to start the development process.

The enclave is to serve as an industrial hub for businesses that want to produce goods of various kinds on a large scale, specifically for the export market.

The Chief Executive Officer of the GFZB, Mr Kwadwo Twum-Boafo, disclosed this to the Daily Graphic on the sidelines of this year’s Izmir International Fair in Turkey.

The fair, the 82nd in a row, attracted exhibitors from all over the world to display products ranging from food and beverages to automobiles.

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Twelve local companies are participating in the five-day event with sponsorship from the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA).

The GFZB also has a stand at the fair, which opened on August 29.

The CEO of the Free Zones said investor interest in the country's free zones concept had increased over the years, hence Melcom's request to be allowed to develop and operate an enclave in the Northern Region.

"They have applied for a developer's licence and we are in discussions towards securing the land for them. But how they will operate will be entirely a private matter," Mr Twum-Boafo said.

He was, however, hopeful the company would use the opportunity to tap into the agrarian potential of northern Ghana by attracting companies that could turn the arable lands in the area into commercial opportunities and add value to the agricultural produce from there.

The GFZB attracted about US$790 million worth of investments in the first eight months of the year and Mr Twum-Boafo was hopeful more companies would set up in the near future for that value to rise even further.

There are about 23 companies currently operating under the free zones programme, which commenced about 16 years ago. The concept gives tax incentives to companies under it ,but makes it mandatory for such companies to export a minimum of 70 per cent of their produce.

By Maxwell Adombila Akalaare/Daily Graphic/Ghana