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Indian Army officer helps build industries in Africa

Indian Army officer helps build industries in Africa
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Indian Army Officer Helps Build Industries In Africa. One hardly sees former Indian army officers in Africa’s business arena. But Col. (Rtd.) Raj...

Accra (Ghana): One hardly sees former Indian army officers in Africa’s business arena. But Col. (Rtd.) Raj Kalra from New Delhi is an exception and is bringing a new dimension to Africa's industrial development.

Kalra has brought his academic and professional experience to Ghana and is keen to make a difference to the country’s industrial development. So far, he has proved to be a businessman with a passion that is changing the face of industrial development quietly in Prampram, a coastal settlement, 60 km east of the capital, Accra.

The passion in him shows when he talks about how the country’s industry should be developed and listening to him with one’s eyes closed, he sounds more like a local politician addressing a rally on how the country should develop.

Kalra had come to Ghana in 2008 to help set up a healthcare centre but this did not work out.

"So, l left, but returned in 2010 to set up a company because l saw that there were opportunities here for one to do a good job," Kalra told IANS.

Since then, he has started making waves and his passion is showing in the results his work is producing. Kalra is the founder, chairman and managing director of the ACEC Group which is based near the Ghanaian port city of Tema. An engineer by profession, with masters degree in technology and an MBA in finance as well as a certified Six Sigma Master Black Belt from the US, he has shown that he was using his academic qualifications together with his experience as chief executive of a heart hospital and research centre in India. He has also been the vice-president and head of business of Excellent Group with the Royal Bank of Scotland, London.

Before that, he served in the Indian armed forces for 22 years and commanded army units during peace and war. He is also a qualified lead auditor for ISO 9001:2008, software quality assurance, and a certified examiner for IMC Ramakrishna Bajaj National Quality Awards, India.

With such experience, Kalra has set about to use his company to provide a platform for international companies that want to enter Ghana. ACEC is doing this by building an industrial park at Prampram which Kalra said, "is in line with the concept of President John Mahama to turn Ghana into an industrial centre to employ more people".

Already, an Indian company, TND, has been assisted by the company to set up to produce electricity meters. In addition, companies from Indonesia, Brazil and France are operating at the Prampram Industrial Park engaged in agro-processing businesses.

Altogether, these companies have invested $90-$100 million.

According to Kalra, his vast experience of complex projects in the fields of construction, real estate development, investment, energy and power sectors has led to the building of different types of warehouse, pre-fab factories, corporate offices, and housing projects with state-of-the-art facilities for clients at very economical costs with time bound project deliveries.

"ACEC aims to envelope the entire West African countries by the year 2020," he said, adding that, the company has a team of highly motivated and skilled professionals with vast related experience to provide customers with world class services and business standards in Africa.

The latest to join ACEC’s growing clients is the multinational Santerre Electric Power Company which plans to invest $300 million in constructing a single-phase 200 MW thermal power plant to help alleviate the ongoing power cuts and load management in the country.

Construction work for the project, which will be spread across the company’s 33.5-acre project site in Prampram, is expected to take off this year, and the entire plant will be built on a fast-track basis to meet the purpose for which it is being set up.

In addition to Santerre's plans to ease the pressure off the country’s energy sector, Kalra said, the investment of $300 million will create up to 1,000 jobs directly -- with additional jobs during construction and indirectly in the supply chain.

The company has been developing the first phase of the project based on an initial investment plan of $150 milion for 100 MW capacity, which would have led to up to 1000 jobs; but it has decided to revise its plans to develop the plant as a single-phase 200 MW power plant, giving a boost to independent power production industry.

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