Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ghana's Materials Industry, Part 3

Once we made the decision to learn about the materials industry in Ghana, more doors began to open.

Our next trip took us to coastal Winneba to visit two ceramics companies. Perhaps the availability of local clay supplies makes Winneba attractive to ceramics factories, or perhaps the nearness to the University of Education at Winneba, which includes an art major, plays a part. It was striking that once again, these companies were both founded by graduates of ceramic arts schools.

The first company was founded by Mr. Richard C. Ekem, whose original art studio has expanded to include production of technical ceramics such as crucibles for the mining industry. For more pictures from our trip to Ekem Ceramics, go to mensana flickr.

The second factory was founded and owned by Mr. Benjamin Mbroh. His company makes exterior wall tiles that can convert a mud house into an attractive "brick" building. It also makes roofing tiles.

Mbroh's work is impressive. In addition, he has a development-minded, sustainable approach to his business: he grows his own trees to fuel his kilns. For additional pictures of Mbroh Ceramics, go to mensanaflickr.

We were excited to learn about the work of these entrepreneurs in the Ghanaian ceramics industry. Our sense of Ghana's unfolding history was reinforced as we discovered a photo featuring a young President Kuffour as an aspiring manager in the brick and tile manufacturing industry. That afternoon as we returned from our trip and approached Accra, we happened to see one of Mr. Mbroh's trucks making deliveries. As pleased as we were to increase our understanding and awareness of Ghana's indigenous materials industries, we were left asking ourselves:

Where are the engineers? How can we educate engineers so they pick up the same spirit of entrepreneurship? How can we support and help strengthen these industries that are already beginning?
We expect we will see similar patterns with small-scale food processing companies in Ghana: How many of these are enterprises led by food scientists /engineers? There is much work to be done.

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