THE Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has signed an agreement with the Genertec International Corporation of China for the construction of a cocoa processing factory in Sefwi Wiawso in the Western North Region.
The US$100 million facility under the China-Africa Development Fund of the China Development Bank is expected to take-off early next year and completed by the end of the year.
At a pact-signing ceremony in Accra yesterday, Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD, Joseph Boahen Aidoo, said the project would help open the Sefwi Wiawso economy by bringing businesses closer to the area; the bedrock of cocoa production in the country.
According to him, the project feeds into government’s policy to process not less than 50 per cent of the county’s average annual production of 850,000 tonnes in the short term.
Currently, Ghana has the capacity to process 45 per cent of the cocoa beans locally but processes about 20 per cent; a figure Mr Aidoo expects to increase exponentially in the coming years.
The long-term vision of the government, he said, was to increase local processing to 1.5 million tonnes annually.
This, if achieved, the COCOBOD Boss said would position Ghana well to derive maximum benefit from the US$100 billion yearly cocoa value chain while creating jobs for the teeming unemployed.
He was hopeful Ghana would penetrate the huge Chinese market of 1.4 billion people in relation to cocoa consumption, adding that “it’s of mutual benefit and a win-win situation for both countries. Ghana will benefit and China will benefit.”
Mr Zhou Mingchum, the Vice President of the China Development Bank, financiers of the project on his part said the decision by the Chinese firm to invest in Ghana was borne out of the confidence they have in Ghana’s cocoa project.
He said with a stable political environment and an ever improving economy, the CDB had no hesitation to support the project knowing that it was viable and would be successful.
Mr Mingchum was hopeful the factory would help reduce poverty in the area by providing decent jobs for the youth.
The Chinese Ambassador to Ghana, Zhou Wang, who led the delegation, said China was committed to the decades’ relationship it had established with Ghana.
The Board Chairman of COCOBOD, Hackman Owusu Agyeman, on his part urged parties in the agreement to quicken the pace of the project as quickly as possible.
“Time is not on our side,” he stated.
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI