Renowned entrepreneur and Founder of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom, has questioned the rationale behind Government’s decision to hurriedly inaugurate the Komenda Sugar Factory in the Central Region, without the availability of the quantum of sugarcane, needed for the factory to run efficiently.
The factory, one of the many collapsed industries started by Ghana’s first President Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, has been resuscitated by the John Mahama led administration with a promise to create some 7,000 jobs.
But critics have suggested that government’s decision to open the factory without the needed raw material to run it could only mean that it was done for political gain going into elections in November.
According to him, although the Komenda Sugar Factory is a good project and that his Groupe Nduom conglomerate is willing to support its growth, he wonders where the sugarcane will come from to feed the factory to create the needed jobs.
“I have some questions based on the Ayensu Starch Factory, the Kumasi Shoe Factory and the Pwalugu Tomato Factory started under the NPP and NDC administrations that have proven less than able to deliver the projected jobs and sustainability. Also, the fish processing factory sited in Elmina that so far has been underwhelming in its performance: Who are the owners of this sugar factory – private and public sector? Where will the sugarcane come from immediately to provide raw materials for this factory? Why did the raw material project not come first? How will we ensure that the sugar produced will be competitive against imports? Will the government protect this factory’s products and how? What measures have been put in place to insulate this factory against partisan politics so it is not abandoned when a party other than the NDC wins power?” the businessman asked.
Addressing students at the University of Cape Coast (UCC) on the issue of sugarcane for the Komenda Sugar Factory, the 2012 presidential aspirant said; “They come and tell us that they are putting a sugar factory there. We are all happy when there is a sugar factory coming so that we don’t import as much sugar, but why are they employing people? There is advertisement in the newspapers that they are employing people for the sugar factory and I have gone to walk around there.”
“Sugar factory, but where is the sugarcane? They are not growing any sugarcane in Komenda or in Elmina or in Kissi or on any of those areas. I am old enough to know that I came to meet a sugar factory in Komenda and all over by the roadside they grew sugarcane. So, if we have put a factory there funded by the Indians and there are some Indian people there and they are now recruiting some Ghanaians, where is the sugarcane going to come from to be turned into sugar?
The entrepreneur expressed the fear that Government could end up importing sugarcane to power the factory, a situation that will defeat the objective of value addition, and also deny locals of the promised jobs.
“What it means is that, somebody is going to import the raw material to come to Ghana so that it can be processed and they will show it to us as sugar from Ghana and what will be the value added? When I look at it, I say that is my tax money that they are playing with.”