‘Partner Ghana develop aluminium industry for West Africa’

BY: Maxwell Akalaare Adombila
Dr Mahamudu Bawumia (left) in a handshake with Mr Olufemi Michael Abikoye, the Nigerian High Commissioner in Accra, after the launch.
Dr Mahamudu Bawumia (left) in a handshake with Mr Olufemi Michael Abikoye, the Nigerian High Commissioner in Accra, after the launch.

The Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has challenged Nigeria and Guinea to partner Ghana to develop an integrated aluminium industry for businesses in the West African sub-region.

With Ghana and Guinea being home to vast reserves of bauxite, Dr Bawumia said the three countries could cooperate to develop an integrated aluminium industry that would use energy from Nigeria to process the bauxite and use the alumina to feed the Volta Aluminium Company Limited (VALCO) in Tema in Ghana.

VALCO, which has the capacity to process 200,000 tonnes of primary alumina annually, currently operates at 20 per cent  capacity – 40,000 tonnes – mainly as a result of the inconsistent supply of power and alumina.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Ghangeria Rising Conference in Accra on Thursday, Dr Bawumia said the time had come for Ghana and Nigeria to translate their size, wealth and influence in the West African sub-region into economic and social benefits for their citizens.

The conference was on the theme: “Harnessing the business opportunities in Ghana and Nigeria to accelerate inclusive economic growth and development”.

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The Ghangeria Rising is a private sector initiative designed to bring together key stakeholders in the sub-region to dialogue on how to improve trade and investment.

Yesterday’s conference was the first under the initiative.

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Leverage resources

While thanking organisers of the conference for providing such a platform, Dr Bawumia said a conference of that nature was long overdue, as engagements of that sort were needed to harness the investment potential of both countries.

“Ghana and Nigeria represent a significant proportion of the economy and population of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). We represent two-thirds or 85 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP), we share a common belief and optimism that business and investment in the two countries have the potential for mutual beneficial progress for each other and the entire region,” he said at the conference that was attended by business executives and government officials from both countries.

 “In particular, we need to leverage the use of resources in each other’s country and the region. There is no reason Ghana, Nigeria and Guinea cannot cooperate fully to develop an integrated aluminium industry, using energy from Nigeria to drive the processing of bauxite in Guinea and Ghana and to use the alumina to feed Ghana’s aluminium smelter.

“It is so with bauxite, as it is with iron ore, energy resources, fertiliser production and agro-processing, among others. We have the opportunity to change our development paradigm through such engagements by the private sector,” he pointed out.

Ready for business

Dr Bawumia said Ghana was open for business, as it strived to improve the investment climate, while protecting investors.

He assured Nigerian businesses of the government’s support to enable them to invest in Ghana.

As a result, he said, Nigerians should “spread the word around that we are open to business, we are open to create wealth, we are open to risk takers and innovative thinkers, young and old, we are open to expand our opportunities for inclusive growth, so that we can create jobs and improve lives for our citizens”.

The Nigerian High Commissioner in Accra, Mr Femi Abikoye, thanked the organisers for the platform and called for closer collaboration between businesses in the two countries to help promote their growth.

He stressed that the potential of the two countries was enormous but that it could only be harnessed through proper partnerships.

He bemoaned the low trade between the two countries and called for pragmatic measures to help address the barriers limiting its growth.