The Management of the West African Mills Company Limited (WAMCO), a cocoa processing entity in Takoradi, has applauded the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) for its cardinal role in the revival of the Company.
WAMCO, with 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. However, the President of the Republic of Ghana, paid a working visit to the company in 2019 and gave the promise of giving life to the Company after the 2020 elections.
As part of the steps, the government of Ghana represented by COCOBOD purchased 40 per cent share in WAMCO, with the remaining 60 per cent majority shares being held by Hosta International AG, German investors under a Joint Venture arrangement.
COCOBOD, thus, ensured that WAMCO was supplied with the cocoa beans needed to commence production and that the company, which was a hub of employment to many in the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolis, worked again.
Mr Frank Bednar, the Managing Director of WAMCO made this known 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.
The company, which has been granted a Ghana Free Zones Authority status, comprised of two factories, namely; WAMCO 1 and WAMCO 2 with three (3) processing Plants, Expeller, Liquor and Hydraulic Presses Plants.
The Ambassador was taken through the factory and the different technologies applied in producing semi-finished products, which were exported and later used as raw materials in chocolate confectionaries worldwide.
Mr Bednar praised the Western Regional Minister, Mr Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah for the significant role played in the reactivation of the company. “We are grateful to the government of Ghana, and COCOBOD for bringing the business of WAMCO back to life,” he stressed.
He noted that both shareholder groups agreed on a roadmap to revamp the two factories starting with WAMCO 1 which was currently operational whilst WAMCO 2 needed major rehabilitation to make it functional again.
Current Workforce of Company
Mr Bednar noted that the company is currently operating with a workforce of 150 and had the potential to increase the number to 250 or more should WAMCO 2 become operational. It was estimated that, the company would require about Five Million United States Dollars ($5,000,000.00) additional capital to modernise WAMCO 1 and fully revive WAMCO 2, he said.
Mr Bednar disclosed that the company has shipped cocoa products such as Natural Cocoa Liquor, Deodorised Cocoa Butter and Expeller Cake to its traditional markets in Europe, but had now expanded its market to Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.
Mr Bednar said WAMCO was earning foreign exchange for the country through value addition and promoting products “made in Ghana” on the international markets. He appealed to COCOBOD to ensure continuous supply of cocoa beans to sustain production and growth.
The Managing Director stressed 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.
Ambassador, Daniel Krull, who was visibly enthused about the revival of the company, recalled how WAMCO was once the heartbeat of economic activities in the Region saying, “I believe resuscitating all two companies was 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 said.
Daniel Krull noted that the German Government is happy about the bilateral relationship between Ghana and Germany. He stated that there are various instruments and funds dedicated to energy and climate issues, which could be of great support should the company decide to have an 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.