President Akufo-Addo has expressed his delight at the revamping and re-opening of the West African Mills Company Ltd (WAMCO), a cocoa processing factory in Takoradi that was closed down in 2014, in fulfillment of a campaign pledge he made in the run-up to the December 2016 elections.
Visiting the factory on Wednesday, 24th July, 2019, the 2nd day of his working visit to the Western Region, President Akufo-Addo stated that “the promise I made to the people of Takoradi has been fulfilled.”
According to the President, “Because the cocoa industry is becoming more and more buoyant again, under the leadership of JB Aidoo and others, a unit like WAMCO is working again. It has made before, and will make again an important contribution to the development of our country’s economy. It is good music in my ears.”
The Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD, Hon. J.B Aidoo, who was also present at the premises of WAMCO indicated that the WAMCO narrative “is the tragedy of cocoa beans.”
He explained that “WAMCO could not get cocoa beans to process, and because of that, in 2014, it was closed down. The workers were sent home, but their appointments were not terminated. We all recall that some of the workers, in 2016, were sending a petition to Parliament, they had an accident and all of them perished, just because of cocoa beans.”
The COCOBOD CEO continued, “So, we came and produced enough beans to supply WAMCO. WAMCO was down, WAMCO is now up. WAMCO which collapsed is now on its feet. WAMCO, Mr President, is now producing at a profit of $2 million.”
It will be recalled that upon the assumption of office, President Akufo-Addo’s government put in place measures to assess the state of WAMCO, and provide recommendations for the reactivation of the facility’s operations.
These measures addressed the operating capital; company assets and liabilities; human resource and administration; and equipment for WAMCO, all in the bid to get WAMCO working.
COCOBOD paid for the processing plant (WAMCO 1) to be operational, and supplied 500 metric tonnes of beans to WAMCO in 2017 for a test run. In 2018 WAMCO began production using a one shift system with about 30 employees, and have now been able to scale up their production in 2019 to a 24/7 and 3-shift system.
All employees either active, retired or deceased have been paid 75% of their remunerations that were outstanding since 2014 to 2017. This included all their entitlements, benefits and SSNIT contributions. The outstanding 25% would be paid in December 2019.