In this Global Platform video Kojo Aduhene, CEO of LMI Holdings, emphasizes the importance of industrialization for the African continent, as well as the key role the private sector can play in securing the necessary infrastructure. Regional integration, sustainability, and job creation will be key to future growth.
Ghana and Africa must industrialize.
To do that we need to have an enabling environment. We need to make sure we have in place all the infrastructure that will be needed.
The most important of these is the provision of power.
The governments of various African countries seem to be establishing the necessary framework.
Ghana has encouraged private participation in the power sector, but that has been in the generation segment. We need to move on to the distribution of the transmission segments as well.
If governments do not have the money to invest in these, they should allow the private sector to invest. There are other services that need to be provided.
If you look at the provision of water in Africa, less than 20% is for drinking water.
For sanitation, it is even worse.
Then you have got the provision of fast internet access, which will be needed for industry. Anything that supports the creation of a bigger regional market is very necessary for the development of the industrial sector in the country.
If you look at the countries in the African market one by one, the markets are not big enough to drive industrialization. We need to integrate to make use of various raw materials so we can be competitive.
The African Continental Free Trade Area is excellent because it forces countries to take decisions.
I am excited about it, especially for a company that wants to be active Africa-wide in five- or 10 years’ time.
For regional integration, transport is crucial.
I think we should develop other forms of transport that are more environmentally friendly and cheaper, like rail, like waterway transport.
We must train our youth. The world is advancing at such a fast rate with the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
We are building six STEM schools in Ghana and distributing them around the country. These STEM schools would focus on artificial intelligence, 3D printing, cloud computing, and cybersecurity.
Once we have them, we need to create jobs for the youth, and we are doing this by building technology parks.
If we don’t look at ESG goals now, we will pay a price in the future. So, it is very important that at the start of any business venture we bear in mind the social and environmental goals that are being set.
Renewable power generation is crucial.
If it is done to scale, renewable energy can be cheaper than the sources we have now. If you take the case of Tema Free Zone, we are building a 16-MW solar farm in one of our warehouses.
This would generate power for two companies and provide 10% of our power needs. The cost of power from the solar farm is cheaper than what we buy from the national power generator. Power supply is more assured because it’s in the enclave and it’s greener.
Companies buying it can go back for the carbon credit and it gives us an environmental badge.
There is a lot of migration from the rural areas to the urban areas and this must be planned for properly.
One way of doing so is to develop smart cities where we can use technology to make living easier, to make the provision of leisure, traveling to work, and all that much simpler.
In smart cities, we are not just talking about expensive, high-end areas.
We are also talking about areas with fast-growing populations where we need to provide affordable housing.
One of the things that LMI is doing in Ghana is providing 2000 affordable homes a year to residents at our industrial Dawa Smart City.
We want to replicate this in the West African sub-region to start off, and then look at Africa as a whole.
It is critical that we don’t just look at industrialization, but also at providing certain incentives, and certain amenities for the people that are going to make industrialization a success.