Brick Around the World: Ghana
A brickmaker shares details regarding the processes and conditions he experiences in Ghana.
Isn’t Google great? The number-one search engine in the world enables us to locate even the most arcane information in the blink of an eye. Google Alerts even let us sit back and wait for information containing certain keywords to be emailed to us.
I have a Google Alert for “brick,” for example, and I see stories about brick manufacturers and personnel from all over the world. These stories always make me curious to learn more, so I decided to launch a new article series focusing on Brick Around the World. Our first subject is Dennis Frimpong, who serves as senior technical officer with Ghana’s Building and Road Research Institute.
How and why did you come to be a brickmaker?
It started as a passion, a hobby to create objects from clay. I studied ceramics in high school and through Takoradi Polytechnic. After my Polytechnic education, I received a letter from the Building and Road Research Institute to come have my National Service at their Research Institute and join the Brick and Tiles project team. After being introduced to the mission of the project, I was very happy because they match my vision, as I hope to offer my knowledge in helping our society.
What types/sizes/colors of brick do you produce?
We produce perforated and hollow brick. I also design custom brick with an extender die/mold when a customer comes and wants different shape or sizes. The size of our brick is in accordance with the British standard for Clay Bricks and Blocks (BS 3921:1974).
How do you produce your brick?
Things have changed since I joined the project team in 2006, from wood molds to Parry press machines for the production of handmade brick. Now we have a locally manufactured extender. Currently, we create both handmade and extender-produced brick.
After collecting the clay, it is hauled at the factory with a wheelbarrow to the pugmill. The wheelbarrow is also used to carry the mixed clay to the extender machine. After 24 hours, the mixed clay is used to produce brick.
Work conditions here are not easy, as you may guess, because of the lack of the right tools and equipment/machines like crushers, rollers, laboratory equipment, test kiln, etc. to conduct simple tests (e.g., moisture content, shrinkage, comprehensive strength). These types of equipment are not around, or if so, they are very expensive. Because of this challenge, we improvise, making the work not easy. It’s worth it, though, when I see our society use the final product.
What do you think the future will hold for brickmaking in Ghana?
The future is very bright. When I look back to when I joined the institute’s Brick and Tiles project, I see that many changes have occurred, including:
• Society’s acceptance of brick
• Physical changes of the brick, from rough texture (handmade) to smooth surface (extrusion)
• Education efforts made regarding the benefits of brick
It leaves me no doubt that, even now, the demand by the society here in Ghana exceeds the supply.
Editor’s note: If you would like to share your brickmaking story, please contact Susan Sutton, editor-in-chief, at firstname.lastname@example.org.