Artisans at the Suame Magazine have begun receiving training at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, KNUST, to equip them with expertise in modern technologies involved in car manufacturing.
This comes after stakeholders set up the Centre for Capacity Development in Automobile and Manufacturing at KNUST to address challenges that artisans face in repairing new cars that are being manufactured, which is keeping many out of business.
The Suame Magazine Industrial enclave constitutes the largest informal sector cluster in Ghana, with an estimated population of over 200,000 people whose livelihoods depend on the enclave.
For decades, Suame Magazine has created employment opportunities for thousands of people.
The artisans who operate at the industrial hub specialize in metal cutting, grinding, drilling, welding, painting, electrical and vehicular repairs, vehicular spare parts sales and small-scale manufacturing.
The craft and basic tenets involved in the operations have been passed on from one generation to the other.
However, with the introduction of modern technology in the automobile industry worldwide which requires special expertise, many artisans are losing their source of livelihood since they are unable to fix some newly manufactured cars.
According to the artisans, this has led to a situation where they have even caused extra damages to some vehicles that have been sent to them for repair works to be done.
The artisans can now heave a sigh of relief as the Centre for Capacity Development in Automobile and Manufacturing has been set up at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, KNUST, to equip them with the appropriate modern technologies and innovations to make them more efficient.
Prof. Mark Adom Asamoah, the Provost of the college of engineering at KNUST spoke on Behalf of KNUST Vice Chancellor, Prof. Rita Akosua Dickson at the launch of the initiative in Kumasi.
“The works of traditional artisans are widely deemed as without standards, with little or no innovation and no means of measurement. As a result, the university has over the years collaborated with the leadership of Suame Magazine to help resolve these challenges”.
The initiative is a collaboration between the Member of Parliament of Suame, Osei-Kyei -Mensah- Bonsu and KNUST with support from their German partners. Mr. Osei -Kyei -Mensah -Bonsu says the work of the traditional artisans at the Suame Magazine cannot be overemphasized and as a result, the centre will help them get the appropriate expertise and will open up more opportunities for them.
“The traditional mechanics play a vital role in the informal economy that cannot be overlooked. Many vehicle owners that are unable to afford the services of the dealers resort to them for servicing, maintenance and repairs. I dare say that the high level of carnage on our roads are mainly attributed to servicing, maintenance and repair work inefficiencies”.
The Suame Member of Parliament added that the training being given to the artisans at the centre at KNUST will put them in a position to be able to repair new cars by various assembling plants that have been set up in Ghana. He says this will enhance their economic opportunities.
So far, some artisans have already received training at the centre.
For Anthony Oppong who has worked at Suame Magazine for years and is also the Ashanti regional chairman of the Ghana Union of Traders Association, GUTA, the initiative is properly preparing them for the future.
“I have been travelling to various parts of the world and I have been in this business and I have noticed that most of the new cars that are being developed are of the electronic type and the fuel cell type which the mechanics here do not have any idea as to how to repair them. So with this laudable initiative, I think it will enhance the capacity of our mechanics and also give future to the work I am doing”