Chemical Industry refers to the industry which is involved in the business of making different products from raw materials through chemical reactions. Generally, the raw materials used in the chemical industry are oil, natural gas, metals, minerals, coal, salt and last but not the least air and water.
Chemical Industries are very important for the economy of any country. This is because, these chemical industries supply the farmers pesticides and fertilizers which are essential for crop growing. In this way chemical industries contribute to agriculture and food self sufficiency of every country. ·
Other than direct contribution to agriculture, chemical industry contributes indirectly to almost every sector of every economy. In our everyday life, we use a lot of industrial products and most of them are related to chemical Industry in some way or the other.
• Chemical industry produces the fibers and dyes which are used in textile industries.
• It supplies the synthetic sweeteners and synthetic flavors which are used by food manufacturing companies.
• Chemical industry indirectly helps the pharmaceutical industry and health care industry by providing the essential chemical components.
• Not only that plastic requirement of packaging industry and artificial rubber requirement of the automobile industry are also met by the very same chemical industries.
One can look at the chemical industry from many points of view.
(i) Some people think of it in terms of huge factories or oil refining plants giving out smoke and polluting the environment.
(ii) Others see it in terms of facts and figures, profits and losses.
(iii) The people who work in the industry see it as the source of their livelihoods.
Inspite of different opinion a chemical industry is of great importance to us. In our daily lives we make use of chemicals. They are in the food we eat, or rather we should say that chemicals are the food we eat. They are the clothes we wear, the medicines we take and the immense variety of articles that we use. In simple words, knowledge of their behaviour has been put to good use, sometimes to bad; and often the effects of their use have been entirely unexpected. Hence it is impossible to avoid the influence of chemical industry on individuals, on the environment and on the economy of a country. One of the signs of the economic development of a country is the state of its chemical industry. One reason for this is that the industry can take essentially simple, and often cheap, raw materials and turn them into much more valuable items. For example, the Haber process employed for preparation of ammonia. This exploits the free supply of nitrogen in the atmosphere and converts it into ammonia, and then into fertilizers, upon which the efficient supply of food has come to rely.
DISTINCTION BETWEEN CHEMICAL INDUSTRY AND CHEMICAL PLANT
A chemical industry is often comprised of units or machinery where the chemical reactions are carried out. It is known as a chemical plant. The details of some chemical plants in Ghana is given in section 49.2. The chemical plants together constitutes the chemical industry of Ghana.
FUTURE OF THE CHEMICAL INDUSTRY IN GHANA
The future of the chemical industry in Ghana is bright. A number of factors point to this.
• It is likely that people in Ghana will be able to tum more of major raw materials into finished goods for export. At present, Ghana, like many other developing countries, is not deriving maximum benefit from major raw materials since the country is unable to ·turn them into secondary or finished goods with added value.
• Certain species of timber are now exported as sawn timber only. It is no longer exported in the log form. Some of the sawn timber is also exported as selfassembly furniture, but with mounting deforestation problems the forest must be managed correctly with a regrowth programme. for hard woods.
• The chocolate industry turns cocoa into chocolate, cocoa butter and other products.
• Aluminium and its products are in demand on the world market. There is a high probability that this industry will be linked to the development of other industries. Some of the industries that can be developed are the chemical, petroleum, iron and steel industries. The mining of bauxite will also be expanded.
• Ghana possesses very large renewable solar salt production potential along its 500 km coastline. Effective exploitation would enable Ghana supply the entire subregion with salt. Unfortunately, dispute over right of exploitation of the Ada-Songhor salt concession has prevented production to begin as at April, 2005.
• An integrated aluminium industry leads to a demand for caustic soda to refine bauxite into alumina. Caustic soda in turn is derived from salt. Thus salt extraction has a great potential for the future. Apart from being a source of raw materials, it has a potential as a high foreign exchange earner. The industry can achieve this aim by exporting to West African countries. Apart from Burkina Faso which imports from Ghana, the others depend on salt imports from Europe and elsewhere.
• Other developments include further improvement of mining methods so that more efficient mining can take place. The use of microbes has already been mentioned.
• Recycling methods, particularly of scrap metals and paper, will have an increasing importance. The following are some of the advantages of recycling:
(i) It keeps down the cost of production of some goods since it is cheaper to use a waste product than to use fresh raw material.
(ii) It ensures that some natural resources (e.g., trees for manufacturing paper) are used more economically.
(iii) It helps in checking solid waste pollution. The future of the industry is not without problems. One of the very important problems is the shortage of imported inputs in all the industrial sectors that rely wholly or partially on imported materials. For example, it is not safe to forecast an increase in mineral production on the basis of the five year period production figures. Only manganese ore witnessed a continuous rise in production during the period under study. Note the phenomenal decrease in bauxite production in 2003 (i.e., from 653,634 mt in 2002 to 492,544 mt in 2003) and the unstable world unit price for each mineral. Low prices and low production seriously affects national income from mineral exports.
RAW MATERIALS OF INDUSTRY
• The main raw materials of the industry are fossil fuels (coal, petroleum and natural gas), air, water, salt, limestone, sulphur, chlorine and some special raw materials such as phosphates.
• Raw materials are converted into products that nearly always need further processing before consumers can use them, e.g., petroleum and its products, such as petrol and plastics.
• The less readily consumable products are called primary products, the readily consumable products are called secondary products while the more readily consumable products are called tertiary products, e.g., from petrol to ethene to plastics. An average chemical product has passed through many stages before reaching the market or consumer. Industries compete with each other because the same product can often be made in more than one way.
• Many chemicals compete for the same use. Thus there is always an on-going research to find the best method for manufacturing a particular chemical and how best it can be used to improve the quality of products. This approach is known as research and development (Rand D). This is why it is said that ‘change is the rule in the chemical industry.