Sod cut for $80m steel factory under 1D1F programme

BY: Nana Konadu Agyeman & Prince Acquah
 Mr Carlos Ahenkorah (3rd left), a Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Mukesh Thakwani (4th left), CEO, B5Plus Limited, Mrs Barbara Oteng-Gyasi (2nd left), a Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, and Mr Birender Singh Yadav (left), the Indian High Commissioner in Accra, symbolically cutting the sod for the factory. Picture: BENEDICT OBUOBI
Mr Carlos Ahenkorah (3rd left), a Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Mukesh Thakwani (4th left), CEO, B5Plus Limited, Mrs Barbara Oteng-Gyasi (2nd left), a Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, and Mr Birender Singh Yadav (left), the Indian High Commissioner in Accra, symbolically cutting the sod for the factory. Picture: BENEDICT OBUOBI

The sod has been cut for the construction of an $80 million steel manufacturing factory at the Larkpelu Village in the Ningo-Prampram District in the Greater Accra Region.

Work on the B5 Plus Limited, one of the factories earmarked for the government’s One-district, One factory (1D1F) programme and located on an 85-acre land, will be completed in October 2019.

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On completion, the factory, billed to be the biggest steel manufacturing company in the West African sub-region, will produce 15,000 tonnes of steel products each month for markets in Ghana and other West African countries.

Foreign exchange saver

“With this factory, we are coming to put up, it will save Ghana $100 million in foreign exchange in the first year and this is a very big call,” the Chairman of the B5 Plus Limited, Mr Mike Thakwani, said at the sod-cutting ceremony yesterday.


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He commended the President’s 1D1F policy and called for support from the government and other stakeholders to make the project a big success.  

He recalled that before the start of the company nearly two decades ago, Ghana imported steel products from neighbouring countries such as Cote d,Ivoire, Togo and other parts of the world.

“Today, we are very proud to say that with its headquarters in Ghana, we are not only catering for Ghana but we have become a net exporter to the whole of West African countries.” Mr Thakwani, who is also the Chief Executive of the firm added.

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Biggest taxpayer

Mr Thakwani said currently the company directly and indirectly offered jobs to more than 3,000 Ghanaians with a distribution network across all regions of the country and the West African region.

“Today, B5 Plus is the only double-rate steel industry, the biggest and one of the very important taxpayer steel firms in Ghana.

“By giving distribution network to more than 1,000 companies in Ghana, we are not only helping them to grow their businesses but we are also giving them a credit facility,” the CEO said.

Mr Thakwani said B5 Plus was committed to discharging its corporate social responsibility, especially in the areas of education and health that had immensely benefited not only Ghanaians but other West African nationals.

Expectation

A Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Carlos Ahenkorah, described B5 Plus as one of the biggest factory projects to be executed under the government's 1D1F policy.

He said the main achievements that the government expected from the 1D1F was to create jobs, enhance the natural resources of districts, produce import substitutes and products for export while it would also check rural-urban migration.

He expressed optimism that people living in Ningo-Prampram would be employed by the company, adding that the “agenda to get people off the streets and get them working again is already being rolled out and B5 Plus forms part of our plan.”

Mr Ahenkorah said every year, between 200,000 and 300,000 tonnes of steel products were imported into the country and noted that the situation could be averted in view of the ability of B5 Plus to produce 50,000 tonnes to take the burden of steel importation off the government.

“We see a situation where by producing 50,000 tonnes, importers will shy away from going out to bring in that component because it is already here; we save that import cost,” he said.

On development, Mr Ahenkorah said the mere presence of the company in Ningo-Prampram would foster development in the area, adding that the government was in the process of bringing a 100-megawatt plant to the factory site.

He noted further that when the factory was connected to the national grid, nearby settlements would also have access to electricity and potable drinking water.

He said some financial institutions that had expressed interest in the 1D1F programme had committed GH¢2.5 billion to the projects, adding that, “today we have recommended 100 companies to these financial institutions to see how to assist them.”