The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture has cut the sod for the establishment of a kente weaving and smock centre at Gushegu in the Gushiegu District in the Northern Region.
Work on the centre is expected to begin in October this year and will be completed by the end of 2018.
Among other objectives, there will be a mass scale production of smocks at the centre for export.
An estimated 300,000 people are expected to benefit from direct and indirect jobs at the centre.
The initiative forms part of the government’s one-district, one-factory project and will be replicated in the Western corridor of the region as well.
The Deputy Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Dr Ziblim Issah, announced this at Gushegu last Thursday.
“Even though we are building it here in Gushegu, it is supposed to serve communities and districts in the Eastern corridor.
“Smock weavers all across the Eastern corridor are going to congregate here and Gushegu is going to be the centre of excellence for smock weaving,” he said.
According to Mr Ziblim, the plan for the centre is to attract patronage from both home and abroad and also promote tourism in that part of the country.
“The centre will be open to both Ghanaians and foreigners in order to make smock a global attire and not just a Ghanaian or northern wear.
“Smocks have always been the symbol of the three regions of the north. The first time we had a Prime Minister, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, he actually showcased the smock, even though he was an Nzema man. The smock is a pride of the north and it is becoming the pride of Ghana. Rawlings also marketed it well in the 1980s and 1990. The ministry is trying to project northern Ghana as the gateway to the sahelian region. Gushegu will be the centre and the gateway for smock export through the sahelian,” the minister added.
Dr Ziblim also stated that the region is noted for its cotton production and would help in the value chain of processing cotton into yarns by women to be woven and sewn by men.
On marketing, the minister said the smock had generated lots of excitement outside the country and, therefore, it would not be difficult to market it.
“There is an easy way to market it. The more we produce, the more we can earn from it. It is also part of the reason we are engaging the tourism ambassadors. Former President Rawlings is going to be our biggest ambassador in terms of the smock because he has established himself as someone who marketed the smock internationally,” he added.
The acting Director at the Tourism Ministry, Dr Joel Sonne, said his outfit would work towards upgrading the skills of smock dealers to ensure that their product met international standards.
The Regent of Gushegu observed that smock making started in the district before spreading to other parts of the region.
While applauding the ministry for its decision to site the centre in the district, he also urged the government to consider establishing a factory to process shea butter and dawadawa, a spice found in northern Ghana.