By Edmund Smith-Asante, ACCRA
The Chinese Ambassador to Ghana, Madam Sun Baohong, has stated that bilateral trade between Ghana and China will hit six billion dollars by close of the year, from last year’s figure of $5.6 billion.
“In the future, definitely we will expand and deepen our co-operation. When we take funds, we think that we can cover more areas to cope with sanitation problems. We can see there are a few rooms here, and in deepening our co-operation, I think we can bring in more technology, bring in more technology transfer, introduce more state-of-the-art equipment to Ghana, not only as a leader in the sub-region, but it can also be a leading player across the continent in this regard,” she stated.
The ambassador noted that Ghana’s trade with China had increased between 20 and 30 per cent over the last two years, while China’s trade with Ghana in non-traditional goods had also seen a marked increase.
Madam Baohong was briefing the media after touring the Mudor Faecal Treatment Plant at ‘Lavender Hill’, Korle Gonno, the Accra Compost and Recycling Plant at Adjen Kotoku and the Universal Plastic Products and Recycling Limited (UPPR) off the Accra/Tema Motorway, last Tuesday.
All the companies belong to the Zoomlion Group, with the first two engaged in a public private partnership (PPP) collaboration with the government.
Madam Baohong was on the tour to identify areas of possible cooperation between the Zoomlion and Jospong Group of Companies and the Chinese business community. She pledged that the Chinese Embassy would do more publicity among businesses and financial institutions in China to court their partnership with companies in the sanitation sector.
“We know that you have co-operation with China, we do not know the depth of this co-operation so this is a very good opportunity for the Chinese Embassy to get involved in this co-operation.
“At the same time, we have accumulated some expertise, some technology, some equipment and capital that we can help our brothers and sisters in African countries to also deal with this issue. I think now is the time of really paying serious attention to environmental issues because of climate change because of the deteriorating environment and ecological system across the globe,” she said.
Madam Baohong added that the embassy would conduct more research on the operations of Zoomlion to see where they would fit in as sanitation had become an area of cooperation all over the world.
The tour to the three Zoomlion companies showed that Chinese companies were already involved in their operations. At the Mudor Faecal Treatment Plant, the contractor working on the project is the Nanjing Wonders Environmental Protection Technology Company Limited from China, while other Chinese companies are involved in putting up a faecal treatment facility at the Accra Compost Plant, which has been fitted with technology from China by Chinese experts.
A Chinese company is also on hand at the Tricycle and Vehicle Assembly Plant on the premises of the UPPR which is using technology and parts from China.
Determined to solve sanitation problem
Welcoming the ambassador to the Accra Compost Plant, the Executive Chairman of the Zoomlion and Jospong Group of Companies, Mr Joseph Siaw Agyepong, said, “Zoomlion has the vision that in the next two years, the waste management problem in Ghana must be solved. So we are putting in place all structures and all facilities to be able to deal with this issue.
“The vision of this company is to solve all waste management problems in Ghana and so everything that we do, we have the vision for 50 years ahead.”
Mr Agyepong said the liquid waste plant, which will be inaugurated by the end of December, has been designed to take in about 50 trucks a day, so half of the trucks that go to the ‘Lavender Hill’ to dump raw faeces into the sea will move to that site.
“We are very determined to deal with the sanitation issues in Ghana, and we have a plan that we are working out with the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and all the assemblies to solve this problem,” he reiterated.
Lack of financing
Mr Agyepong, however, said the challenge facing the plant was the absence of long-term financing in Ghana. He said as waste was a health issue and not a profit-making venture, it took between 15 to 20 years for returns on investments in the sector, so the banks were not willing to finance such ventures.
He said the compost plant was currently occupying only 30 acres of the 160 acres because there were no funds to carry out the much-needed expansion works. “Currently, the government spends about $50 million on chemical fertiliser imports every year but we need about $60 million to expand the plant to produce organic fertiliser for our farmers,” he stated.
Mr Agyepong said because the Tema landfill was full, all waste will now be sent to the compost plant and appealed to the Chinese government to assist in getting the needed funds for expansion works.
He also told the Chinese ambassador that between $30 million and $50 million was needed to enable the Plastic Recycling Plant to produce about 30,000 dustbins a month for each of the about five million households in Ghana.
At the Tricycle and Vehicle Assembly Plant, Mr Agyepong said the factory aimed to stop the importation of waste management vehicles and having them procured locally, as well as helping vocational institutes and polytechnics get hands-on training in the assembling process.
This story was first published by the Daily Graphic on Thursday, December 17, 2015