Business News of Wednesday, 1 February 2017
The Chief Executive of Officer (CEO), of Pamplo Ghana Limited, Mr Kenneth Okine, has promised to replicate his bamboo processing factory across the regional capitals in the country.
For that to be successful, he said the new government must heed to its promise of creating a conducive environment for the private sector to thrive.
Mr Okine, who is a banker and a graduate from the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom (UK), believes the new administration has brought a renewed sense of confidence for the business community.
The company’s story reads like a tale encapsulating the spirit of entrepreneurship, self-determination and commitment in a country of low manufacturing.
It is also a narrative that illustrates how a vision which had its room in Ghana was transformed over a period in order to lessen the country’s heavy dependence on imports.
Ghana imports almost everything and anything; from tomatoes from neighbouring countries to toothpicks from China. This situation has had serious repercussions on the foreign exchange market and denied many Ghanaians the opportunity of employment.
But to tell and appreciate the initiative of the factory, Mr Okine told the GRAPHIC BUSINESS in Accra that it was crucial to roll back to 2013, a time of bleak entrepreneurship fundamentals in the country.
Mr Okine explained that the idea to establish a factory was as a responds to his Chinese colleagues back at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom (UK), who mocked him of his country’s inability to manufacture anything.
“My colleagues will always ask me. So, Ken back in Ghana what do you produce? And I cast my mind back and in fact we do not produce anything,” he said.
However, Mr Okine opined that he had always cherished the idea of setting up such a factory after school to reduce the country’s heavy dependence on import, as well as to create jobs.
But pinpointing the exact moment when the ideas was conceived is almost an impossible task, maybe for the originator of the concept because the great transformation the company had made in a short time does not reflect the stated period of the idea.
Production in full capacity
The company, Pamplo Ghana Limited has recently begun production of bamboo products at a full capacity to meet the demands of both the local and West African market.
The factory, which has also been stocked with state-of-the-art equipment, is now clothed with the technical capability to provide a transformational change in the company’s area of operation.
Located at Amrahia on the Dodowa road in Accra, the company currently has 16 employees and a capacity to produce about 30,000 bottles of toothpick per every month.
The chief executive officer said the company intends to increase its workforce from 16 to 50 people before the end of 2017, saying it would ultimately enable the factory to become the only company in the country with capacity to produce varieties of products.
He noted that the introduction of new machines from China by the company was a bold step to augment the operations of the company to deliver to specifications.
According to him, the company is looking forward to hold a discussion with the Fan Milk Ghana Limited in order to produce ice cream sticks for them.
“So, we are now open for business, although we have been around for some time we are presently set to meet any demand which will be put to us,” he said.
Both bamboos are used in construction works, furniture making and charcoal burning among others.
In other countries such as China, bamboo shoots are used for food, watershed protection and carbon sequestration (the process of removing carbon from the atmosphere and depositing it in a reservoir among others).
The bamboo industry is a key component of the non-traditional exports sector of Ghana’s economy. Its contribution to the country’s GDP cannot be underestimated, as it creates jobs and generates foreign exchange for the economy.
However, the last two decades has seen a dwindling in the fortunes of the sector, as foreign exchange from the handicraft sector fell from US$15 million in 2001 to US$2.5 million at the end of 2014.
The decline, according to the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), was as a result of lack of investment in product and design development by handicraft producers.
To revert the trend, Mr Okine said the Pamplo Ghana Limited would produce enough in order to reduce the country’s heavy dependence on imports.
He urged Ghanaians to adopt the products from Ghana to allow the company to expand and employ more people throughout the country.
According to him, there is ready market for the skewers and the kebab sticks and even though the toothpicks were also being patronised, some customers still preferred those from China.
Aside producing to multinational firms, the company is targeting fruit sellers and chop bars inside and outside of Accra to establish a market with its improved packaging.
Mr Okine said he intends to reduce its products even below the market rate in order to reach out to large markets in the country and beyond.