Ghana: Women take on automobile industry

As greener solutions become the future for the automobile industry, a local start-up in Ghana is providing the platform for female engineers in a sector dominated by men. The automobile manufacturing industry has for years been dominated by men. A team of young female engineers is poised to change the narrative. Solartaxi Ghana is a local start-up helping women contribute to finding greener solutions. The start-up seeks to promote the use of electric vehicles across the country. And these women are at the forefront of driving that ambition.

Catherine Ama Wilson and Belinda Akaba are taking Ghana’s automobile industry by storm. With nine others, they are finding greener solutions in a field traditionally dominated by men. Solartaxi Ghana builds solar and electric automobiles from scratch.

”I am the type of person who is always on the move to do something new. After hearing that we have a company making electric vehicles, I said, why not come here and try my talent to see whether I can build myself in other areas”, Mary Kudaya, a mechanical engineer at Solartaxi Ghana told our Ghanaian correspondent, Peter Quao Adattor.

For some of these workers, their motivation is to contibute to the Ghana’s automobile industry. For others, it’s reinforcing the old saying what ‘men can do, women can do better’, and they also hope to inspire other women to follow their dreams.

That as Ghana’s government has signed protocols to improve gender equality.

”Moving forward, I also want to stand on my own, have my firm that I will employ a lot of ladies into the engineering field”, Belinda Akaba, an electrical engineer said.

George Appiah is Co-founder at Solartaxi Ghana. He tells our Ignatius Annor that: ‘’We have engaged with the consumer power unit of the electricity company of Ghana, on the possibility of charging all our units across the country. But we as a local assembling company that assembles these electric vehicles here, being the bikes, the tricycles, and also we are moving towards the cars, we don’t have that support yet. Our biggest challenge has to do with the taxes that we pay. That is not something we are getting support for.’’

In Nigeria, rising cost of cement is affecting the construction industry. The price of a 50 kilogram bag of cement has nearly doubled in the last two months. Construction engineers have blamed the monopolization of the cement market for the hike in prices. Currently, there are two major cement producers in Africa’s most populous nation. Dangote cement and BUA group. Business Africa has learned that the market only met nearly half of the projected 60 million metric tons of cement in 2020. The prices of cement in Nigeria have nearly doubled in the last two months, going from $5 to $10 for the standard 50kg bag.

”The effects are quite complex in the sense that, it affects all aspects of the construction industry in the country. And there is this skyrocketing of pricing that is affecting all aspect of construction and it is very bad”, Building Engineer, Donald Ebirim told our Nigerian correspondent, Michael Dibie.

But, Business Analyst Abiodun Ihebuzor says it is not an issue of monopoly but market structure.

”It is not truly a monopolist market but a monopolistic competition and it is ok looking at the capitalist system”, Ihebuzor said.

And, 47 African nations expected to witness rebound in economic activity in 2021. Kenya, Djibouti, Rwanda, Botswana and Tunisia are expected to lead economic growth in Africa this year. As per the projections in the January 2021 World Bank Global Economic Outlook report.

Although growth projections are relatively moderate for Africa in 2021, a handful of countries are expected to record a sustained rebound in economic activity. According to the report, growth for Djibouti and Kenya will be at 7.1 percent and 6.9 percent respectively.

Tunisia follows at 5.8 percent, Rwanda and Botswana are expected to grow at 5.7 percent this year. The latter saw their economies contracting in 2020 by -0.2 percent and -9.1 percent respectively.

According to the Bretton Wood institution, three African nations; Congo, Equatorial Guinea and South Sudan should still be in recession.

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