Business News of Thursday, 29 July 1999
Tema became the cradle of Ghana's industrial backbone sine independence in 1957. It was to become a beacon of hope for Ghana's drive towards industrialisation.
42 years of Ghana's independence that tag which made Tema an important city in Ghana appears to have taken a different turn. BIP's Akwasi Yeboah and Otuei Annancy examine Tema and discover that although she still maintains her past glories as the industrial hub of the country, it has become private sector driven, with very few of the companies still in government hands.
By the close of the 70's it became clear that Ghana's industrial growth was rated to be one of the finest in the sub-region with Tema making up almost half of the output could not justify whether it could throw its weight behind the economy.
Companies such as Ghana Textile Printing were taken over by the workers.
Quality of its products, the wax print became very unattractive. Tema Textile absorbed the Ghana Textile Manufacturing Company. Eveready Ghana Ltd., producers of dry cell batteries folded up.
Lever brothers, a division of the Unilever group and producers of detergents, food and other products could not cope with production. Tema Stell works which forms part of the dissolved GIHOC conglomerate could not operate effectively.
The Volta Aluminiun Company (Valco), a division of the Kaiser set up also suffered serious production crisis when its plant for the first time in history was shut down as a result of an energy problem which Ghana was facing.
The Tema Food Complex Corporation, which was Ghana's largest food processing plant and was truning out various brands of products could nt manage itself well.
Ghana Ports & Harbours Authority, which manages the ports of Tema and Takoradi could not manage the ports effectively. Services at the Tema port deteriorated at such an alarming rate that turn around timefor ships became ineffective and stealing became the order of the day, till a World Bank loan restored the dignity of the ports to its current position.
By the beginning of the eighties, it became clear that the majority of companies that were supporting
Most of the shipping companies that were operating here around that period folded up their business and vested their interest in other companies to take care of them.
The Tema Development Corporation (TDC), which was a developer of residential and industrial facilities in the Tema municipality, had its subsidy from the government withdrawn and had to depend on its own resources to carry out some its programmes.
The fishing industry, which had its head at Tema and employs a quarter of a million of Tema inhabitants, also suffered with most of the indigenous companies either folding up or looking elsewhere for new investment.
Notable among them was the Mankoadze Fisheries Limited, which had a cannery, a host of fishing vessels. It was owned and managed by two prominent Ghanaian businessmen.
Though the Mankoadze fishing venture later resurfaced in the Gambia, it huge investments in Ghana were relocated. Its cannery plant in Ghana was bought by the J. Heinz group, which manages Star Kist.
Today the fishing industry is private sector driven; controlled by foreigners, mainly Koreans.
The PSC Shipyard, which was formally known as the Tema Shipyard and Drydocks, could not also service vessels which were calling at the port of Tema. Sources had it that because its inability to play its role as a service provider Ghana lost substantial amounts of foreign currency until its new Malaysian owners breathed new life into its operations.
Ghana's industrial drive was showing signs of fatigue. Problems such as financial constraints, unfavourable competition , raw material burden and lack of managerial direction affected it.
It is also a fact that while some of the companies in Tema sent distress signals that Tema could no longer hold the industrial might of the country, new opportunities came with the coming into being of Aluworks, which is now the largest primary aluminium processing plant into the country.
Wahome Steel, one of the largest steel manufacturing plants in West Africa was also established by Taiwanese and Ghanaian investors. Other business enterprises were also established around the same period.
The government announced a crash programme to rescue some of the companies it owns. As a result, it divested some of the companies through its Divestiture Implementation Committee.
Tema Food Complex was sold and renamed. It is now Ghana Agro Foods Company Ltd. And managed by a well-known German food-processing firm. Tema Steel Works was taken over by an Indian business concern. It is now known as Tema Steel Company Ltd. Shipyard and Drydocks was also taken over by Malaysian investors.
Tema Lube Oil which produces lubricants for all the oil-marketing companies in the country is said to have been place on the divestiture list, alongside Cocoa Processing Company Ltd., and Tema Oil Refinery.
The Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) with its headquarters in Tema is seriously involved in a number of exploratory activities. Notable among them is the Tano gas project and many others.
With this trend and the new life that has been breathed into most of the industrial establishments in Tema, government control of the companies no longer holds.
Tema's new identity as the industrial hub of the country will in the long term remain under private sector control.