Ghanaian industrialist Apostle Dr. Kwadwo Safo is moving beyond the manufacturing of vehicles for exhibition purposes to commercial automobile production in an ambitious effort to venture into an industry dominated by global conomic giants like the USA, Japan, Germany, United Kingdom, France and Korea.
From a current production level of two vehicles per year, the Apostle Safo Suaye Technology Research Centre (ASSTRC) intends to take the local automobile market by storm as it increases production to 40 vehicles per month, or 480 vehicles per year.
At the moment, construction work is underway at the ASSTRC at Gomoa Mpota in the Central Region for the installation of a new automobile assembly plant to begin the commercial production of various brands of Katanka vehicles in two years' time.
Alfred Akutteh, a Technical Officer at ASSTRC, said the consignment of the plant was on the high sea and would be delivered by March, this year.
After the installation of the assembly plant, ASSTRC will train its workers on how to use the plant in the hopes that by 2015, it will be ready to produce Katanka brand vehicles.
But even before the equipment arrives at the port, Apostle Dr. Safo is appealing for government support, namely import duty exemption, to cushion ASSTRC as it ventures into the commercial production of vehicles.
He said support from the government would enable the ASSTRC to help more youth, including university students and graduates, who had been making use of the practical training at the centre to realise their potential in life.
Apostle Dr. Safo said he did not seek any reward for his initiatives except to help his fellow Ghanaians and prove to the world that the black man is also capable of great technological exploits.
Since its establishment in 1971, the Kristo Asafo Mission, under the leadership of Apostle Dr. Safo, has undertaken what is arguably the largest philanthropic campaign in the country, making huge donations in cash and kind to educational institutions, orphanages and many needy institutions.
It has also spearheaded many technological innovations with the manufacturing of the Katanka brand of vehicles, all without any government or external support. Apostle Dr. Safo is not perturbed by the lack of support, saying that in spite of the challenges he might encounter, he will never be discouraged in his endeavours.
The Katanka brand of vehicles, according to Mr. Akutteh, was designed to suit the local environment and interests.
All the parts of the Katanka brand of vehicles are produced locally with local materials in line with Apostle Dr. Safo's philosophy that Ghanaians must tap the country’s rich natural resources in order to develop.
ASSTRC has already successfully experimented with the manufacturing of a car that has no engine and moves only with the aid of a solar-powered battery, without petrol and water.
The purpose of such a vehicle would be to help the country save fuel, which could be used to power big vehicles and for other industrial purposes while making the car manageable for patrons in terms of cost.
Apart from the automobile industry, Apostle Dr. Safo is also eyeing the aviation and marine industries with an ambition to manufacture aircraft and marine vessels.
The dream of manufacturing aircraft was on course at the time that reporters visited the ASSTRC, where they saw employees busily working on the wing of an aircraft.