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African Engineers: Grassroots Enterprise Growth in Ghana


A big initiative by the Kwame Nkrumah College of Science and Expertise (KNUST), Kumasi, Ghana, was taken in January 1972 with the institution of the Expertise Consultancy Centre (TCC). Kumasi is the house of Ghana’s largest casual industrial space or kokompe, positioned to the north west of town and identified domestically as Suame Journal. The then Prime Minister, Dr Kofi Busia, had commissioned the college to undertake a survey of Suame Journal and its a whole bunch of grassroots automobile restore and rebuilding workshops. So the newly fledged TCC determined to take as a main goal an interplay with the 5 thousand artisans of the Journal resulting in help in diversifying actions by upgrading manufacturing applied sciences and introducing new services and products.

Over the following 25 years, city drift swelled the inhabitants of the Journal to greater than 70,000 artisans. It was largely to the credit score of the college that the variety of trendy manufacturing amenities, degree of technical capabilities and vary of merchandise stored tempo with, and in some circumstances exceeded, the expansion in human inhabitants.

This evolution was a protracted and gradual course of, fraught with many delays and frustrations. But the staff of engineers and technicians, largely assembled within the Seventies, pursued their aims with enthusiasm and dedication and all the important thing figures stayed at submit all through this lengthy interval. Industrial improvement programmes in Africa and different elements of the growing world are sometimes deserted after 2 to five years. The story of KNUST and Suame Journal might encourage governments and improvement companies to take a longer-term view.

Universities are concerned in educating and the primary transfer by the TCC in 1971 was to arrange a coaching workshop on the college campus and invite the Suame artisans to attend for coaching. A number of grasp craftsmen despatched their apprentices to benefit from the chance however on the entire the response was disappointing. It was quickly realised that two issues have been wanted. The primary was that the coaching ought to be provided within the Journal the place it will appeal to extra curiosity. The second was that the artisans wanted inexpensive provides of the machine instruments and manufacturing amenities that they have been being educated to function.

By March 1975 a plan had been drawn up for an Intermediate Expertise Switch Unit (ITTU) to be established within the coronary heart of Suame Journal and run by workers of the TCC. A undertaking proposal was submitted to the Ghana Authorities and to varied worldwide improvement companies. There was then a wait of 4 years earlier than funding grew to become accessible. The on-campus coaching continued and NGO funding allowed the importation of used machine instruments from the UK to equip the primary 4 unbiased workshops with educated manufacturing groups. These enterprises produced metal bolts and nuts for constructing, truck and fishing boat building, and lathes and bench saws to be used by native carpenters. Additionally manufactured have been machines for extracting palm oil and processing cassava and corn.

In 1979, funds have been made accessible by the Ghana Authorities and the Canadian Worldwide Growth Company (CIDA) to determine the primary ITTU in Suame Journal, Kumasi. On the similar time, a undertaking to determine a second ITTU at Tamale within the Northern Area was accredited with help from the US Company of Worldwide Growth (USAID). Tamale is sort of 400 kilometres from Kumasi and the logistical issues delayed the opening of the ITTU till 1988. Nonetheless, progress in Kumasi was a lot quicker and the Suame ITTU started operations in August 1980.

At first the Suame ITTU continued the programme transferred from the college campus, coaching artisans to function machine instruments and supplying imported used machines at inexpensive costs to those that acquired the mandatory expertise. It additionally launched the manufacture of latest merchandise together with a spread of machines designed to be used in upgraded conventional rural industries corresponding to cleaning soap making, post-harvest processing and craft industries. With different sections of the TCC coaching rural artisans and farmers to make use of the brand new tools, by 1985 the undertaking had established a whole bunch of latest rural and concrete enterprises using hundreds of women and men.

The TCC was anxious to introduce new manufacturing applied sciences into Suame Journal. Even earlier than the ITTU had opened it had realized that the prevailing indigenous foundries dealt with solely non-ferrous metals: bronze for the standard gold weights made at Kurofofrom in Ashanti Area and aluminium alloys for cooking pots, first made within the far north at Bolgatanga and later produced in most city centres together with Kumasi. So the choice was taken to introduce iron casting and the primary iron foundry was demonstrated on the Suame ITTU early in 1982.

Beginning with small lift-out crucible furnaces of 60 kilograms of iron capability, the trade quickly expanded to later make use of cupola furnaces melting a couple of tonne of recycled scrap forged iron at every firing. Iron casting in Suame Journal grew to grow to be one of many largest employers, and merchants come from throughout Ghana and from neighbouring international locations to purchase its merchandise. The principle gross sales depot on the Suame ITTU is stocked from ground to ceiling with corn mill grinding plates, by far the perfect promoting product with demand from numerous corn milling enterprises.

The Kwame Nkrumah College of Science and Expertise has now been working in shut affiliation with grassroots industries for greater than 40 years. The loyal band of pioneering engineers is now retired however others have come ahead to take their place. These individuals haven’t taken their levels and run off to greener pastures abroad however turned their information and expertise to the service of their much less lucky countrymen and girls and for the betterment of the entire group. They’re deserving of recognition and honour of their nation and all through the world improvement community.


Supply by John Powell

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