The Rubber Processing Industry in Ghana

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Natural rubber is anelastomer(anelastichydrocarbonpolymer) that was originally derived fromlatex, a milkycolloidproduced by some plants. (Wiley,2002). Wiley further states that natural rubber is used extensively in many applications andproducts, as is synthetic rubber. Recent research has found that the economic impact of the industrial processing of rubber had at the time of discovery is, besides an industry that provides jobs and returns on savings, and also contributed a lot to economic development (Oluwalana et al 2007). Ghana has not only achieved sustainable growth and significant poverty reduction in the recent years, state and institution building has made rapid progress in the same period. Ghana has become a stable democratic state as demonstrated in a peaceful transition of power in two consecutive free and fair elections in 2000 and 2008. Governance indicators have been steadily improving over the past years and in 2007, Ghana ranked ahead of regional averages of Asia, Latin America and Africa in most important governance indicators, including government effectiveness, regulatory quality and control of corruption (Kaufmann et al. 2008). The country is ranked among the top ten African countries in terms of freedom of the press and academic freedom (Freedom House, 2008). Industrial development has been recognized as one of the surest means of ensuring higher and sustained growth rates. Hence African countries including Ghana pursued import substitution industrialisation in the 1960s and 1970s. The rationale was to move African economies from its agrarian state to modern industrialized economies as has been the case of the East and south-east Asian economies. Consequently, policies to promote import substitution industrialisation were pursued and this led to the establishment of light industries to produce goods locally and operate behind tariff barriers. Like many African countries, Ghana’s industrial strategy was meant to reduce economic dependence; hence, manufacturing industries were established to produce items that were previously imported. Ghana became a success story in Africa in the recent years. The growth and poverty reduction strategy volume 2 states that, after more than 20 years of steady economic growth and significant poverty reduction, Ghana is aiming to become a middle income country in next 10 years. Outcome of transformation in many Asian countries is often characterized by a declined share of agriculture in GDP and increasingly important role of manufacturing in leading growth in the transformation process (GPRS,2009). Industrialization has enjoyed significant goodwill and merits of history as the propelling force in the global economics of national development. Technology underlines industrialisation and the appropriate blend of the two provides the engineering infrastructure for growth and development. Ghana has made significant attempts at industrialisation, especially in the immediate post-independence era through definite plans. The core strategy of the GPRS is to pursue industrial development through the private sector as the basis of wealth creation, growth and poverty reduction (GPRS, 2009).


Ghana’s economy has displayed less transformation than might be expected for a country that has recently achieved middle-income status according to National Development Planning Commission (NDPC, 2010). The role that transformation plays in the course of development is well understood by both development economists and policymakers in the developing world. NDPC (2010) argues further that, transformation which is a process in which labour moves from traditional activities in agriculture and other primary sectors to modern industry and also a process in which population moves to urban numbers, creating opportunities for the development of industrial activities and improved welfare. In Ghana, a significant percentage of the working population is employed by the informal sector, The Ministry of Trade and industry (MTI) (2000) cited that, small firms can more propel growth in the economy than large once due to their number and niches they occupy in the national economy. In the rural economic development, small scale industries and enterprises play a key role in generating income for running of families and financing most activities in the rural areas of the country (MTI, 2002). With this great impact and contribution to the economic development of the nation, these small scale industries are weighed down with a lot of problems (Ankomah, 2012). Ankomah in his research further stated that, most of these industries hardly grow in the rural economy to become medium and large scale. They still faces challenges such as poor working condition, low technology, low infrastructure facilities, inadequate network, poor distribution system, low

quality product and poor regulatory systems (MTI, 2002). They face hard competition from large scale industries in the formal sector in marketing their product. Ghana’s Medium Term Development Policy Framework states in NDPC (2010) that, the midterm development plan in Ghana is to “lay the foundation for the structural transformation of the economy within the decade ending 2020, through industrialization, especially manufacturing, based on modernized agriculture, industries and sustainable exploitation of Ghana’s natural resources, particularly minerals, oil and gas” (NDPC 2010). It is against this background that the research seeks to provide adaptable means to promote the rubber industry for economic development through architectural innovations and advance infrastructure facilities.


The research objectives seek to;

1. Assess the rubber processing industry in Ghana and identify the design considerations in setting up a modern rubber processing industry in Apemanyim.

2. Propose a rubber processing industry in the district capital to influence the socio-economic development and to create employment in the district capital.


The following research questions were used to achieve the objectives of the study. These include;

  1. What is the current state of the rubber industry?
  2. What architectural design interventions can be disposed of in response to the needs of the rubber industry in Ghana?


The scope of this research is geared towards the processing of natural rubber, and how the industry can be advanced in production technology and infrastructure to further process the rubber into final products and also to influence the socio-economic development in the district capital. It also focuses on the design principles to setup a reputable rubber processing industry. This study will look out for the requisite spaces, machines or equipment and standards for the establishment of a rubber processing industry. A detail documentation and analysis for siting a rubber factory will also be amalgamated into this thesis as an experimental or demonstration project being a foreshadow of how feasible the country’s plans of solving her economic problems will be best addressed.


There is an increase in the government’s effort to achieve economic growth and poverty reduction in rural and urban areas. According to Ghana statistical service (GSS),(2000), In their living standard survey, it indicate that about 69% of the Ghanaian population is employed in the micro and small enterprise sector with a significant number of them located in the rural areas. The Ministry of trade and industry (MTI) (2002) cited in the (ADTF) journal that, the government of Ghana has policies for micro and small enterprise. The goal of this policy is to create a conducive environment to grow and facilitate the development of a vibrant, productive and competitive micro and small enterprises sector in the country. The government seeks to promote dynamic enterprise culture for innovation, promote employment growth within the informal sector and develop micro and small enterprise to serve as a means to establish linkages between the formal and informal sectors of the economy. Also the policy state to improve the technology based product quality and productivity of the micro and small enterprise sector and upgrade the application of indigenous technologies. Rubber processing is concentrated at Apemanyim as a result of the presence of raw materials. The GREL processing plant is the main industry into the processing of natural rubber in the district capital. An interview conducted at GREL identified that, 120 people are employed with a production capacity of five tonnes per hour. With lack of infrastructure development and technology, this rubber industry is unable to further process the rubber into finish goods thus its inability to create more employment for the youth and more over to contest the urban market with their product. The contribution of GREL in the economies of the Western, Central and parts of Ashanti regions is enormous as it currently provides employment for over 6,000 farmers through its Rubber Out-grower Scheme. There would be more value added to the rubber if it is further processed into tires before it is exported to various countries.


The major limitation encountered was the difficulty of getting some vital information with respect to the unavailability of existing factories to be used as local case studies and equipment as technical studies which are in accordance with rubber industry facilities. The only factory available within the country is the rubber factory located at Apemanim. However, this factory does not further process the rubber into finished goods.


The study has been organised under five main chapters. Chapter One focuses on the general introduction to the study and defines the research problem, objectives, scope and justification. The second chapter reviews literature on the concept and economics of rubber production. Chapter Three covers the profile of the study Region and Districts as well as the methodology that has been employed to carry out the study. The fourth chapter presents an in-depth analysis and presentation of data. The fifth and final chapter covers the major findings and policy implications of the study, recommendations and conclusion.


The chapter has presented an overview of the whole study with general issues confronting the rubber industry. The next chapters will therefore, present a critical review of the body of literature related to the processing of rubber.