The West African Mills Company Limited (WAMCO), a cocoa processing company in Takoradi, has commended the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) for its immense support that has ensured the revival of the first cocoa processing factory in Ghana.
WAMCO, which used to have the state-of-the-art machinery and equipment to turn cocoa beans into various semi-finished products for export, was shut down between 2014 and 2017.
The cocoa processing company could not get cocoa beans to process, coupled with other operational challenges, hence the shutdown.
However, prior to assumption of office, the current government promised to revive the defunct company when voted into power.
The promised was fulfilled and the President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, subsequently paid a working visit to the company in 2019.
The Government of Ghana (GoG), represented by COCOBOD, has 40 percent share in WAMCO, with the remaining 60 percent majority shares owned by Hosta International AG, German investors under a joint venture arrangement.
Therefore, upon assumption of office, COCOBOD ensured that WAMCO was supplied with the needed cocoa beans to commence production and ensure that the company, which was a hub of employment to many in the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolis, worked again.
This came to light when the German Ambassador to Ghana, Daniel Krull, visited the factory to familiarise himself with the operations of the company and engaged management and staff of the company.
The company, which has been granted a Ghana Free Zones Authority status, comprises two factories, namely WAMCO 1 and WAMCO 2, with three processing plants, expeller, liquor and hydraulic presses plants.
The ambassador was taken through the factory and briefed about the different technologies applied in producing semi-finished products, which are exported and later used as raw materials in chocolate confectionary worldwide.
Mr. Frank Bednar, Managing Director of WAMCO, also praised the Western Regional Minister, Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah, who doubles as the MP for Takoradi for the significant role he played in the reactivation of the company.
“We are grateful to GoG and COCOBOD for bringing the business of WAMCO back to life,” he stressed.
He mentioned that both shareholder groups agreed on a roadmap to revamp the two factories, starting with WAMCO 1. WAMCO 1 is now operational while WAMCO 2 needs a major rehabilitation to make it functional again.
He revealed that the company is currently operating with a workforce of 150, and has the potential to increase the number to 250 or more if WAMCO 2 becomes operational.
It is estimated that the company will require about US$5,000,000 additional capital to modernise WAMCO 1 and fully revive WAMCO 2.
He stated that the company has shipped cocoa products, such as Natural Cocoa Liquor, Deodorized Cocoa Butter and Expeller Cake to its traditional markets in Europe, but has now expanded its market to Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.
He said WAMCO is earning foreign exchange for the country through value addition and promoting products ‘made in Ghana’ on the international markets. He, therefore, appealed to COCOBOD to ensure continuous supply of cocoa beans to sustain production and growth.
The Managing Director added that there is the need to invest into environmentally friendly power generation to reduce energy costs, to protect the global climate and to support Ghana in meeting its national carbon dioxide emission targets.
The German Ambassador, Daniel Krull, was enthused about the revival of the company and recalled how WAMCO was once the heartbeat of economic activities in the region, adding: “I believe resuscitating all two companies is pivotal to the economic future of the region and the country as a whole”.
“I am happy to see some of the machines as old as I am still working actively and I am delighted to learn that these machines are German technology which are very reliable and dependable,” he added.
He said the German Government was happy about the bilateral relationship between Ghana and Germany. He stated that there are various instruments and funds dedicated for energy and climate issues, which could be of great support should the company decide to change its energy mix.
Ambassador Krull encouraged WAMCO to also show interest in research and development and pledged to facilitate an exchange programme between the company and similar establishments in Germany as well as other areas of cooperation in the fields of science and technology.