The Forestry Commission of Ghana has signed a major strategic partnership deal with Greenland Resources AB of Sweden to establish large scale forest plantations in the country.
The deal is expected to supply pulpwood for the production of paper and paper products in the country and for export.
Chief Executive of the Forestry Commission, Mr Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, who signed the deal with Torbjorn Johannson, the President of Greenland Resources explained that the next stage in the process, which covers the duration of this 24-month MoU, is to carry out detailed due diligence, technical and financial analyses, including species and hybrid selection and trials.
There will also be biodiversity surveys, logging and harvesting including water transportation of pulpwood, and various mechanization techniques suited to the Savannah terrain for the development of detailed project implementation plans.
Mr Afriyie said the project, when implemented, would radically transform the whole forestry sector and enable it contribute substantially to the GDP of Ghana.
From the seventh year of project implementation the estimated 200,000 hectare of plantations is expected to produce six million m3 of pulpwood to feed the 1.5 million-ton production facility annually in perpetuity, since annual area harvested will be replanted.
The plantation project including forest tree nurseries, is estimated to cost $800 million over the first rotation of seven years and another $2 billion for the construction and establishment of the 1.5 million-ton pulp and paper mill which will be sited in southern Ghana to facilitate export among others.
He said initially three forest reserves in the Savannah Region; Yakombo Forest Reserve in the Buipe Forest District, and Kenikeni and Yerada Forest Reserves in the Bole Forest District, with a total area of 215,000 ha have been earmarked for the plantation project while two other reserves in the same region are being assessed for possible inclusion.
“The implementation of this project will therefore lead to the afforestation of an estimated 200,000 hectares over seven years which will greatly enhance carbon stocks while offering protection from wildfires leading to significant enhancement of carbon stocks and avoided degradation from annual wildfires, thereby helping in the global fight against climate change,” Mr. Afriyie said.
The plantation project is expected to directly create an estimated 5,000 full-time sustainable jobs for various categories of workers in the Savannah Region and 4,000 fulltime skilled and unskilled jobs covering various disciplines, including technicians, chemists, engineers at the mill which will run 24 hours daily over three shifts.
During the mill construction and set up phase 14,000 jobs will be created with an additional 2,500 jobs created in the service sector during the erection phase. The indirect jobs that will be generated from the multiple associated goods and services, and other dependent smaller scale paper-based industries are enormous, with the potential to generate over an estimated 20,000 private-sector jobs.
Ghana currently imports an estimated $268 million of paper and paper products annually. This project will therefore lead to significant foreign exchange savings and a reduction in the price of paper locally.
In addition, it will support national efforts to as much as possible, replace plastics with paper products, especially in the shopping bag and packaging industries.
On his part, Mr Johannson said Greenland Resources AB, of Sweden is dedicated to move the project into a full scale large and competitive pulp mill, able to compete in the top segment of the best performing mills around the world, in all respects.