++++an industrial cluster+++part1+++Kumasi+++++Ghana+++++
THE SUAME MAGAZINE The Suame Magazine located in Kumasi is recognised as the largest artisan engineering cluster: mechanical, electrical and car body building workshop in the sub-Sahara Africa. It occupies an area of about 20 square miles. The Suame-Magazine, formed spontaneously in the 1929 is a cluster of artisans engaged mainly in vehicle repairs and metal works. This set of pictures is about the present-day situation of the Magazine. The current state of technology has imposed significant challenges on Suame Magazine to adopt state-of the art technology in its operations in order to remain relevant in the fast advancing global engineering industry in which it is an integral part. The industrial area known locally as ‘Suame-Magazine’, because its original site once housed a military magazine, is involved in five major clustered set of activities. The working population of the magazine is estimated to be 200,000, more than three times the threshold population of a political district, of which 12,000 are shop-owning proprietors. Traditionally, the ‘Magazine’ craftsmen were involved in vehicle repairs, with a small number of blacksmiths also producing basic agricultural tools, charcoal stoves, and other simple metal goods. Out of this base of blacksmithing has evolved a group of firms involved in various types of metal-work manufacturing. All of the metal-working firms spend at least some of their time doing repair and maintenance work, but all are also manufacturers. Dawson (1988) categorised them into three groups: blacksmiths who used clay and brick forges and hand tools, a middle group who had achieved a modest level of technological enhancement, mostly with the use of locally made machines, and a group using machine tools, including at least one lathe, that Dawson calls ‘engineering’ workshops. The first turning-point came with the retreat of Ghana’s formal economy from the mid-1970s onwards when ‘even the least ambitious blacksmith added new products to his range or, at the very least, increased the volume of his production. Entrepreneurs saw vehicles lacking parts that could no longer be imported, and attempted to fabricate suitable spares. Others saw the need for food processing or agricultural equipment, and copied existing imported models. The Suame Magazine is a cluster of artisans engaged mainly in vehicular repairs and metal works with a working population of over 200,000 of which 12,000 are shop-owning proprietors. In the Ghanaian economy the Suame-Magazine plays a crucial role in capacity building in technical and vocational skills to young school dropouts and serves as the industrial attachment for practical training for trainees in technical and vocational schools and polytechnics. It has strong vertical bilateral linkages between garages and metal workshops, mostly the engineering firms. The strength of the activities depends on the ingenuity and diversity of services that is undertaken by both apprentices and master craftsmen of the cluster.