Bawumia Storms Free Zones Enclave

Vice President Bawumia  being welcomed to the Free Zones Enclave

Vice President Bawumia paid an unannounced visit to the Tema Free Zones enclave yesterday.

During the tour, which saw him visit two cocoa processing companies, Barry Callebaut and Niche Cocoa Industries Limited, the Vice President, explained that it was meant to learn at first-hand the challenges and address them to enhance the operations of companies in the Free Zones enclave.

“I also came here to get a better understanding of the sort of challenges you have, because we are not satisfied with the level of processing of cocoa for example in Ghana,” he said.

“Nana Akufo-Addo has charged the country that we should process and add value to our raw materials, and not just export the raw materials. We want to see much greater volumes being processed, which means more exports and more jobs. So we wanted to see the challenges that Barry Callebaut and others are having, and find ways to help them.”

He said, “I am happy to see that these companies are almost entirely run by Ghanaians or have a significant Ghanaian representation. I am happy to see Ghanaian men and women doing an earnest job to earn a living. But we want to see more value addition. There are so many jobs we can create with value addition.”

He also reiterated the commitment of the Akufo-Addo administration to providing a conducive environment to enhance the establishment of new companies.

According to him, government is particularly interested in encouraging value addition to provide more product lines to create jobs and grow the economy.

Managing Director of Barry Callebaut, Charity A. Sackitey, who took the Vice President round the factory, indicated that her outfit, which runs 24 hours seven days a week, pays a higher tariff than the figure announced by the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG).

She also called for a discount from the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) for the main cocoa crop season, arguing that such a discount would help the company to double production and create more jobs.

The company receives a discount for the light crop but no subsidy for the main crop, and this has limited our ability to expand as much as we would wish to, she explained.

On his part, the Managing Director of Niche Cocoa Industry Limited, Edmund Poku, called for greater financial support for companies in the cocoa processing industry to help them buy more beans for processing and expansion.

The Vice President promised to look into their concerns and engage the appropriate stakeholders for a speedy solution.

Barry Callebaut was the first company to move to the Tema Free Zones enclave in 2001, and has grown steadily over the years.

It is headquartered in Switzerland.

But Niche Cocoa industry Ltd is a wholly Ghanaian owned cocoa processing company.

Established in May 2011, it recently doubled its capacity from 30,000 to 60,000 metric tonnes a year, making it one of the largest cocoa processing companies in Ghana.

By Charles Takyi-Boadu, Presidential Correspondent