NEWS COMMENTARY ON THE STRATEGIC IMPORTANCE OF GHANA’S AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY IN THE WAKE OF THE ESTABLISHMENT OF TOYOTA ASSEMBLE PLANT IN GHANA.
When the government of Ghana under the leadership of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo decided to set up and develop an automotive industry in the country, it came as a shock to many people because it was going to be difficult to realise such a vision seeing that in terms of technical skills, along practical lines, the country could not produce enough people for that sector. What people failed to realise was that the country has such technical personnel around and needed only a little push to let these skills be put into practical use to promote the automotive hub for Ghana. Having been able to establish this automotive industry, everyone has now realised that the President meant serious business when he came out with that vision.
Today, many people in the country have now come to realise that the country is on the verge to becoming competitive with the rest of the world in terms of an efficient automotive industry. The President has been able to turn his vision into reality. The vision emerged in August 2019 during the Tokyo International Conference on African Development. During that time, many people in the country felt that the President was only blowing his horns and thus that programme wasn’t going to see the light of day. It is encouraging to see the assembling of Toyota and Suzuki vehicles in the country. The vehicles are brand new ones that are been offered for sale to the public. Other brand of vehicles will also be commissioned very soon.
Following this move, new and highly skilled jobs have been created in the country. In line with this, 334 young graduates have been employed by the just established Ghana Automotive Industry. This is a reference to direct employment but we know that there will be indirect employment to be associated with this. Other forms of employment will also emerge and have a multiplier effect on the economy of Ghana. Interestingly, we are encouraging our children to study science in preference to the humanities for the socio-economic transformation of the country.
In spite of this, however, whenever our young science products come out of schools or tertiary institutions, we find it very difficult to find them places in the economy to practice the high skills they have attained over the years. This development is quite discouraging. For this reason, many young men and women prefer to go into the humanities where they can be supported with administrative jobs. This status quo must change if we are to be able to realise the vision of the President in terms of Ghana-Beyond-Aid. Ghana-Beyond-Aid simply means that we need to look within and develop our human and natural resources in a productive manner to come out with self-induced growth in terms of output of goods and services for our country and the rest of the world. This is what will make Ghana truly independent as a country that wants to stand on its own feet.
The establishment and promotion of the automotive industry in Ghana is very significant because it will lead to the reduction of the import of second hand vehicles. This reduction will also help to conserve foreign exchange for the country. It is this conservation of foreign exchange that will help to strengthen the cedi, which is our local currency.
One other thing which the government is planning to do for the good of the country is providing guidance for the automotive industry to ensure that activities within that industry are properly regulated so that there will be nothing but efficiency and effectiveness in the automotive industry. By this, we are referring to the establishment of a Ghana Automotive Council. This refers to a consultative stakeholder body with qualified representatives to oversee the Auto Policy implementation and promote Ghanaian participation in the development of the sector. What this means is that the government is visionary in terms of forecasting and appropriate guide to shape up and put on course the automotive industry in Ghana.
It is also important to note that the establishment and development of the automotive development industry in the country will lead to a change of the orientation of the Ghanaian that every citizen and resident in Ghana who desire for new cars can realise this dream. Ghanaians like their European counterparts and others in certain parts of the world desire better treatment in terms of purchases of brand-new cars. This is a positive new orientation that needs to be worked on to ensure that it succeeds because both the white and the non-white deserve better treatments in terms of the purchase of brand-new cars. The automotive industry developed for the country has come at the right time so all Ghanaians must put in their best to support it.
By: Dr. Kofi Amponsah- Bediako, Director of Corporate Communications, Ghana Standards Authority.