The bamboo bicycle is gaining popularity in Ghana and other parts of the world. Demand for the product is increasing among bicycle users in the country and even in the UK and the Netherlands where it is mainly used for touring.
Realizing this need, Newmont Ahafo Development Foundation (NADeF) has established a bamboo bicycle factory in Gyedu, one of Newmont Ghana’s host communities in Ahafo, to train and engage young people in the manufacturing of high quality bamboo bikes. The factory was funded by the people of Ntotoroso and Gyedu from their share of Newmont Ghana’s contribution to NADeF. So far, 37 young people from the two communities have been recruited by the factory and 25, out of the 37 are factory hands currently undergoing a six month training in the production of the bikes. The first phase of the skills training is expected to end in February 2017 when the factory will launch full operations.
Daniel Owusu Mensah is the Project Manager of the bamboo bike factory. He is responsible for the overall production capacity of the initiative. “The end goal of the bamboo bike project is to create employment and empower the livelihoods of the youth in our communities while contributing significantly to the local and national economy,” he explained. “Our projected annual production capacity is 375 bicycle frames, about 50 per month, to meet both local and international demand.”
Bamboo, the raw material used in the production of the bicycles, is harvested in the community and is in abundance. “One of the many crops this community is blessed with is the bamboo. After harvesting, we treat it with chemicals to meet the internationally approved quality and standards we use for production,” Daniel said.
The establishment of the bamboo bicycle factory is one of the several initiatives funded by NADeF in line with Newmont’s purpose of creating value and improving lives through sustainable and responsible mining.
Elizabeth Opoku-Darko, Executive Secretary of NADeF, emphasized the employment advantage and economic change the factory will bring to the communities. “This project is geared towards the economic sustainability of the community. We are hopeful that aside providing employment for the people, it will also help more people to acquire employable skills.” She said.
Daniel Owusu Mensah is impressed with the enthusiasm of the workforce so far, after completing four stages of their training. “The young people we have at the factory are contributing very well, eager and committed to learning the ropes,” he said.
The bamboo bike factory hopes to employ and train a high number of youth from the catchment areas, to discourage them from engaging in activities such as illegal mining which is a threat to environmental sustainability.
Newmont Ghana’s Ahafo Mine established NADeF in 2008 to serve as a vehicle to drive sustainable development in its ten host communities. The mine contributes 1% of its annual net profit and US$1 per each ounce of gold sold to support the Foundation for the execution of various projects to benefit these communities.