Senior vice-president of Imani Africa says the Komenda Sugar Factory was an emotional project undertaken by successive governments to revive Kwame Nkrumah’s legacy.
According to Kofi Bentil, if the incumbent government desires to revive Komenda Sugar Factory, the best alternative is to repurpose it.
After the factory has been defunct for about 30 years, he said government would have to inflate prices of sugar on the market since raw materials would have to be imported to keep the factory running.
“The only way to make Komenda work would be to stop all sugar imports and force Ghanaians to buy sugar at three times the price. That does not make sense because the development must aim to make the people better, not worse off”.
“We saw how the raw materials were not there; they had to import them. All the work we’ve (Imani Africa) done shows us that anybody who puts even a dollar behind Komenda sugar Factory, that the NPP is promising to do, will be wasting that dollar,” he told host Samson Lardy Anyenini on JoyNews’ Newsfile Saturday.
The old factory, built in 1964, became defunct about 30 years ago due to technical difficulties and mismanagement. So resuming operations at the factory was a perfect opportunity to do things right this time around.
Some 7,300 jobs were expected to be created when the factory ran fully in 2016.
The factory, which can crush 1250 tonnes of sugar cane daily, was expected to put a permanent smile on the faces of the farmers, who would directly feed the factory with raw materials and get paid. On May 30, 2016, the factory restored the hope of unemployed youth who dreamt of finally gaining employment.
Former President John Mahama at the commissioning stated that “the income generated by young people would be phenomenal and be able to change their lives”.
The $36.5 million loan sugar factory is not producing sugar. It is idle and currently rusting away, with parts of the roof worn out and torn. Unfortunately, the facility shut down in July 2016 after a few test runs.
It was due to reopen for full production in October 2016 but never did.
Mr Bentil said before the construction of the factory; Ghana should have drawn lessons from India when their sugar factories were shutting down at the time.
He said that in well-detailed research by Imani Africa, his outfit found out that Komenda could not produce the raw materials and did not have what was required to run a sugar factory.
“In fact, the investment was not sufficient. We needed another ¢20 something million for the out-grower scheme. Even if we had the money for the out-grower scheme, some people said we needed up to 6000 acres of land.
“We had only a thousand ready, and the places had been encroached. The sugar variety we needed to plant is not planted in Ghana. We checked with the farmers who did not want a situation where all the sugar would go to one factory. The factory doesn’t buy it; then they have a problem”.