The Trade Ministry is on course to significantly reduce the country’s import bill with the implementation of the Ghana Automotive Manufacturing Development Programme, the sector Minister, Alan Kyerematen has said.

Ghana’s import bill on the average annually exceeds $10 billion. In 2018 for example, the total imports amounted to about $12 billion. The top 30 imports constitute 57% of the import bill.

Among the top three imported commodities or items were motor cars and vehicles for transportation of goods which represented about 12.5% of Ghana’s total import bill for the same year.

In addition, out of all vehicles imported annually, only about 10 per cent are new vehicles and a significant number of the imported vehicles are older than 10 years.

But sector Minister, Alan Kyerematen is optimistic of a significant change under the Ministry’s Strategic Anchor Industrial Initiatives, which includes the vehicle assembly and components manufacturing.

Already global vehicle giant Volkswagen has unveiled a new set of vehicles assembled in Ghana by Ghanaian engineers working in partnership with their foreign counterparts with some of the brand new vehicles selling at sixty nine thousand cedis.

Speaking at the unveiling ceremony, Mr Kyerematen indicated that as a response to the unsustainable huge import bill situation, the Trade Ministry in early 2017 identified Ten Strategic Sectors to be developed as the new Growth Poles for the Ghanaian economy.’

Among these Ten Strategic Sectors under the Strategic Anchor Industrial Initiative included Vehicle Assembly and Components Manufacturing programme.

This programme was not only to provide opportunity for import substitution but also to diversify the Ghanaian economy which is overly dependent on few raw commodities such as Cocoa and Gold, and currently Crude Oil’ he stressed.

According to him, despite the scepticism, government signed a memorandum of understanding with Volkswagen group in 2018 which is already bearing fruit with the assembly of cars in Ghana.

“Again a number of interventions such as component manufacturing in partnership with our local auto technicians; vehicle financing through the local banks and other financial institutions; access to Industrial Infrastructure to be established in collaboration with the private sector; and skills training and technology transfer through Ghanaian Universities, have all been outlined in the new Ghana Automotive Development Policy to ensure that Ghana harness the most benefits from these investments,” Mr Kyerematen said.

President Akufo-Addo who officially unveiled the new VW vehicles directed all public agencies to source garments, textiles and vehicles from domestic producers.

According to him, the Chief of Staff has been directed to ensure all ministries, agencies and departments give first preference to the acquisition of locally assembled vehicles when public funds are used to buy vehicles.