The euphoria that greeted last week’s disclosure by Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany that Volkswagen would be putting up an assembly plant in Ghana is quite understandable.
Not only is it expected that such a plant would create thousands of jobs (directly and indirectly) to the teeming youth and artisans; government will also make tangible benefits in terms of revenue.
Although this announcement seemed to be good news, it seems many Ghanaians are having their misgivings about it. They think the government has not given the needed support to locally-manufactured vehicles.
While some say it is an avenue to ‘kill’ Kantanka vehicles, others think local companies can take advantage of the development to streamline their lines of production. To some, Kantanka should take advantage of the announcement and enter into a strategic alliance with VW automobile. Others also think it should rather concentrate on assembling motorcycles, tricycles and smaller vehicles.
The midst of the ongoing debate, THE PUBLISHER wishes to congratulate government and the Ghana Embassy in Germany for the far-reaching effort to bring a company as huge as VW to Ghana.
We, however, think that the deal should not be an end, but a means to an end. After all, VW came into the German limelight largely because it was accepted as the property of the German state.
Originally operated by the German Labor Front, the car was renamed Volkswagenwerk, or “The People’s Car Company.” In fact so proud was Adolf Hitler about the car that in 1938, at a Nazi rally, he declared: “It is for the broad masses that this car has been built”.
We think that, even though government has not indicated facilitating the coming of the German company, something needs to be done to assist local automobile companies to survive and possibly overtake the foreign ones.
Sources say with the right assistance, the Apostle Safo Suaye Technology Research Centre (ASSTRC), headed by Dr. Kwadwo Safo, could manufacture between120 and 240 cars daily. It currently has models like the Kantanka SUV, Omamma, Odeneho, Mensah Saloon, Nante Yie, K71 and Okatakyie on our roads.
Apart from Kantanka, other indigenous automobile inventions also need serious governmental input. In July, 2017, a vehicle that is powered by the sun, became the official brain child of students of Ghana’s Premier engineering university, the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and the Technical University of Munich. The first version of the environmentally friendly automobile, developed by the Departments of Mechanical Engineering and Physics, was outdoored at a graduation ceremony of the university. The first drive was taken by the chancellor and Otumfuor Osei Tutu II.
Also worth mentioning is Ghana’s first self-assembled automobile by the “Suame Industrial Development Organization” (SMIDO), which constructed a prototype, robust SUV named SMATI Turtle 1, and intended for use in the rough African terrain.
We cannot let such laudable efforts go to waste in the name of lack of funds. As a people, we cannot use Made In Ghana goods if we fail to encourage the production of such goods. With a little push, Kantanka can become our people’s car in the next generation.