Business News of 2014-09-03

Salt producers beg gov’t for US$5 million

Salt producers in the Ada Songhor salt enclave have asked government for a US$5 million investment assistance to help them increase production by about 10-fold.

The producers said salt production, which currently stands at about 300,000 tonnes per annum, could go up to 3 million tonnes when the investment is made to address challenges at the production site.

The appeal comes in the wake of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources’ pledge to revamp the salt industry.

The Executive Director of the National Association of Salt Producers of Ghana (NASPAG), Dela Addo, explained to the B&FT that operations at the Ada Songhor salt project are impeded by several challenges including poor accessibility to sea water, which is a key requirement for production.

He estimated that about US$5million will be needed to tackle some of the principal challenges they face.This could boost revenue generated from salt production from the current annual figure of GH¢45 million to GH¢450 million.

“Sea water is the raw material for salt production,but currently the Ada Songhor salt project’s accessibility to the water remains very poor, thereby dampening operations,” he said.

The investment, according to him, will be required in the construction of permanent intake canals, which will draw the sea water to the Songhor Lagoon area where the salt is produced.

“If we are able to get the right investment, we can be sure to raise the output from the project to about 3 million tonnes per annum,” he said.

Currently, many countries in West Africa including Togo, Nigeria, Côte D’Ivoire, and Burkina Faso import salt from Brazil, Australia and Europe.

Ghana and Senegal are the only two countries along the West African coast with the right climatic conditions and suitable land to produce appreciable quantities of salt.

Despite having a capacity to produce over 3 million tonnes, Ghana produces only 250,0000 tonnes per annum -- and with countries in the sub-region importing more than 90 percent of salt from Australia and Brazil, the potential market for Ghanaian salt within the sub-region is very high. Nigeria, for instance, imports approximately US$1.5billion worth of salt annually.

The new Lands and Natural Resource Minister, Nii Osah Mills, on a recent visit to the Minerals Commission described the salt industry as “promising”, saying: “I will seek to resolve all concerns and issues around the salt deposit at Ada, including ownership, livelihood, and compensation to attract foreign investors to the project.

“My vision is to make the country a leading salt producer on the west coast of Africa. I will work hard and collaborate with the Minerals Commission and other stakeholders to uplift the salt industry in Ghana to take its rightful place in Africa.”

Mr. Mills said the salt industry holds huge economic prospects, which the country can depend on for job-creation and revenue-generation.

Source: B&FT
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