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THE UNTAPPED OIL, by Mulumba N Songsore

During the days of creation, God intentionally blessed Africa with bountiful natural resources that when harnessed aptly will be sufficient to meet the economic and social well-being of its citizens. We as creatures of the almighty had the responsibility to oblige to the divine instruction from God to mankind that we should go out and subdue the earth which was given to us for our own benefit. Have that been done as it ought to?

Oh! my country Ghana, that great country which received its fair share of mineral resources and merited the enviable name Gold Coast because of the rich gold deposits in the land. God did bless us with oil, cocoa, timber, bauxite mention them. Many pity the northern part of the country because most of these precious mineral resources have its geographic habitation in the southern parts of Ghana, was God fair in the distribution of minerals in the country Ghana?

A big Yes, God being so wise in his infinite wisdom, knowing that cocoa can’t grow in the northern parts of Ghana, because of weather conditions thought it wise to make in abundance THE SHEA TREES in the region. The Northern region of Ghana consist of the Upper East and West and is considered the poorest. Over the years governments upon governments have willingly/unwillingly neglected that one tree that can turn the fortunes of the northern region and tremendously bridge the inequality gap between the south and the north by leveraging on the shea plant and fully harnessing its usefulness through building of an industry with highly sophisticated machinery that can extract refined oils from the plant for local consumption and export in other to draw more foreign exchange into our country. The fortunes of the shea plant can never be underestimated considering the range of products that can be drawn from it.

  1. As stated earlier, the butter can be refined into oils that is rich in natural minerals which is very good for the body. This oil when refined can be consumed locally and exported for foreign income
  2. She butter has very good deposits of stearic acid and oleic acid which widely is used in cosmetics as lotion
  3. The butter extract is a complex fat that in addition to other chemical products can be converted to soap
  4. The butter melts at body temperature and is very efficient for the prevention and treatment of cracks especially on feet of a person. This is mostly used during the dry harmattan season
  5. It is also very effective for the treatment of hair breakages and has been added to some hair related products
  6. It can be used for candle making. Benin is a notable example of a country that tried and succeeded
  7. In the UK and other countries, it is worth nothing that butter from shea is incorporated into assorted tissue products, such as toilet paper
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There are myriad uses one can keep on listing about the usefulness of the shea butter extracted from the shea nuts, imagine the thousands of direct and indirect jobs that would be created if a well-equipped factory is set up with the potential of processing the butter exhausting its numerous benefits. For the past decades, the best use of the butter especially in the upper regions is ending up in the kitchens of mothers as oil for frying of meats or cooking of soup or used by traditional bone setters to lubricate affected places of their patients.

During a recent visit of the Minister for Planning Prof. Gyan-Baffour to the Upper West Region at the regional library for ‘’THE COORDINATED PROGRAMME OF ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT POLICIES (2017-2024)’’  during the presentation of his technical adviser he did made mention that, The Ghana Cocoa Board is making available funds to support PhD students who want to research into how the growth of shea trees can be improved at a faster rate. I had the singular honor of asking ‘’To what benefit should PhD students study on possible ways of reducing the growth years of shea trees when for the past decades the available butter have not been fully harnessed to full potential to the utmost benefit of the masses. I think that the establishment of a factory to processes this precious resource has been long overdue.

I know of a paramount Chief in the Upper West Region who has for the past years methodically carved out a business plan that is focused on putting up a refinery plant to fully harness this resource for the betterment of all but is challenged with capital to execute this dream because bank rates on loans are outrageous and putting up a factory like such is capital-intensive. What the government should and must do is reach out to persons like that with the needed partnership to turn the fortunes of the shea industry in the northern region of Ghana. This move I trust without doubt will help bridge the gap of inequality between the south and the north by providing jobs to thousands of people in the region.


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