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Ghana’s Opposition Plans Aluminum, Iron and Steel Industries

Aug. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Nana Akufo-Addo, the main opposition presidential candidate in Ghana, pledged to develop a “multi-billion dollar integrated aluminum industry” and attract investment into bauxite mining.

“We will use a similar model to exploit our iron-ore deposits and build urgently a new iron and steel industry which can also process West African ore being currently shipped to Europe for refining,” he said yesterday in a speech in Accra, the capital, broadcast on the website of Joy FM.

The 68-year-old former foreign minister with the New Patriotic Party lost a 2008 election in Africa’s second-biggest gold producer by less than 1 percentage point to John Atta Mills. He will face President John Dramani Mahama of the ruling National Democratic Congress, who took office last month after the death of Mills, in a general election in December.

Ghana’s economy, the second-biggest in West Africa, is forecast to expand 8.8 percent this year, faster than the sub-Saharan African average, according to the International Monetary Fund. The growth, led by the start of oil production for export in December 2010, has boosted demand for foreign exchange and added pressure on the local currency, the cedi, which has weakened 16 percent against the dollar this year.

“The long-term solution for the stability of our cedi is industrialization,” Akufo-Addo said. Ghana needs a “much more robust fiscal and monetary stance than we are seeing today,” he said.

The Bank of Ghana raised its benchmark interest rate by 2.5 percentage points to 15 percent this year to stem the cedi’s decline to a record low against the dollar. The currency gained for a second day, strengthening 0.3 percent to 1.9365 a dollar by 10:39 a.m. in Accra.

The NPP, which ruled Ghana for eight years until January 2009 under John Kufuor, would expand free education to senior high school students and make a national health-insurance program universal, Akufo-Addo said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Emily Bowers in Accra at ebowers1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net

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