Ivory Coast and Ghana to build storage facilities for
June 23, 2017
The above question is
triggered by a June 21, 2017 byline in the Business Day
publication of Ghana. It said, “Ivory
Coast and Ghana in talks for $1.2bn loan for cocoa output”.
continued, “Ivory Coast and Ghana want to build storage facilities for local
processing and for the storing and release of stocks based on market demand.”
Brilliant idea, but surprising enough to make one's blood boil. The
reason? The storage part, an astounding idea that has been
around since the 60s and about 50 years
The time it took for the leaders in Ghana and the
Ivory Coast to embrace the concept should be the worry.
It took Ghana and the Ivory Coast about 50 years to acknowledge the
economic necessity of building silos, yet a short two years to
embrace the EPA, a supposed economic
the storage deal, we are now about to learn that good ideas
don't come in partisan colors. And that they could not be
encapsulated in the vacuum of time either.
First, let's credit Nkrumah
with the idea of building the silos. He had the idea to control
surplus cocoa stock long before the EPA partnership idea was
The ink is yet to dry on the
signatory document of the EPA “stepping
stone” agreement, just as the proposal for storage
facilities came on line.
Both the silos and the
EPA are being touted as urgent and essential for the growth of the economies of Ghana
and the Ivory Coast.
But the two ideas cannot have the same potency of
ought to be better, when stacked for priority.
The EPA plan, dubbed as the “stepping stone partnership”
plan for mutual growth, is nothing of the sort.
It is the same warmed over access to
European markets we had under colonial rule; in a game of
The irony here is in the repeated failure of
the leaders of African countries to see the trap and to
speak against it. This reticence
may hurt Africa.
But we should know why. The
interest of our former colonial masters and African greed have always been the
Few leaders now seem eager to
confront Europe; to challenge her by
juxtaposing the self-inspired idea of building silos for development versus one
a package deal asking you to surrender your local market to
the foreign, former colonial masters.
But the juxtaposing has to be done.
Within the context of true development, the "stepping stone"
plan is the least optimum approach
to true independence and development.
the purpose was to tie Africa's raw materials to the economies of Europe. The EPA,
thus, is no different.
How do you jump from one dependency
under colonialism to a dependency under the EPA?
Or, how else could these
afford to think that they could be the primary beneficiaries under
another European arrangement?
You do so only when you have
forgotten or ceased to respond to the former experiences under
These African leaders must be
reminded that we
struggled for independence, not for a string to attach our
to market theories from Europe.
Fortunately, the proposal for
silos is underway. The effort is timely, even
if late, and one that if accomplished could return tangible
profits within the immediate future.
We can even hope at this stage that
on completion, the silos would return
more benefits within 5 years than the “stepping stone” agreement could for Ghana
and the Ivory Coast in the next 25 years.
As said, Ghana had
her silos before 1966 and for the same reasons proposed under
this new one.
The towering silos on the skyline
of the Tema Harbor
area are witnesses to the idea.
They are still standing.
They were probably never used, maintained or even subsequently improved
after the coup of 1966. But never mind. The notion
of cocoa stock storage was established, but promptly buried after Nkrumah.
Had the concept taken hold some 50
years ago, Ghana and the Ivory Coast would have been in a better place now; and
definitely not as
"price takers" for the same cocoa they produce today.
They would also have been far advanced on the
path to true independence and local and regional
And the best part is, they would
be far removed from mercenary threats by
the EPA; the measure for the true "independence"
But let us move on to the Business Day
It said “The cocoa regulators of the world’s two biggest
producers (Ghana and Ivory Coast) are in talks with the African Development Bank
about a $1.2bn loan that will be used to...mitigate against
This is where you get angry, if you happened to
be an African nationalist.
Because of political ill-will, a good idea has
been allowed to go to waste; or no discernible efforts have been
to resuscitate these silos at Tema.
The Daily Graphics of Ghana,
about a year ago,
published an article about the matter.
silos with a potential storage capacity of 200,000 tonnes were built at a cost
of 8.5 million British pounds. Ghana was the world’s leading producer of cocoa
at the time, producing more than 40 per cent of the world’s annual output of
“The plan to build the silos was, however, severely criticised by
the political opposition, the World Bank and other foreign interests.... The
eventual abandonment of the £8.5 million silos is best understood in the context
of the general opposition to the national industrialisation programme Nkrumah
embarked upon shortly after independence. ”
written by George
Sydney Abugri for the Daily Graphic, March 10, 2016, cannot be overstated.
the Ivory Coast and Ghana have come to the sensible conclusion that “they will
work together to derive more value from growing beans after a slump in prices
cut government revenue and incomes for hundreds of thousands of small-scale
farmers,” according to Business Day.
What took these two countries so
The knowledge that we have been "price takers," for our own produce,
has always been known since the beginning of the colonial era. And,
it was this same knowledge that helped Nkrumah to encourage the building
of the silos in Ghana in the 60s.
Back then, Ghana was the number one cocoa producer and
Ivory Coast was second. Nkrumah's proposal for the silos was made long before OPEC became a household name.
Nkrumah knew that the faster we exported our cocoa stock to the world
market, the lesser the price we received for our efforts. Hence the need to
control supply to the same market.
It was also understood
at the time that the
facility at Tema could be extended for use by other West African countries. And with their
cooperation and understanding, perhaps, more silos could have been built.
The lesson from that era was Nkrumah had no support for the idea.
Houphouet-Boigny , the
then President of Ivory Coast secretly undermined Nkrumah's effort. And so did the
political opposition in Ghana at the time.
No wonder there was a steep fall n cocoa
price in the years leading to the 1966 coup.
The low cocoa price on Ghana, an almost one
commodity economy country, led to distress in the economy that
caused farmers to smuggle cocoa stock in droves across the border into Ivory
Coast for better prices.
For the Ivory Coast, Ghana's misfortune of the 60s was a blessing. The smuggling helped,
in part, to catapult
it to the number one
cocoa producer status, a position it still maintains today.
things are different. The ill-effect of lower cocoa pricing
is affecting both the Ivory Coast and Ghana.
“Ivory Coast, the
top grower, had to reduce the price paid to farmers by 36% ….. Ghana lost almost
$1bn in export earnings because of lower prices,” according to Business day.
This unfortunate condition, however,
has produced a sensible collaborative effort between the two countries
for proposal of new silos.
Is it necessary now to point out the folly of not building these silos
If successive regimes in both Ghana and the Ivory Coast have had the political
fortitude to build these silos earlier, the two nations would have been spared the
pain of indolent leaderships.
Perhaps, a competent and honest economist is needed now
to do a postmortem analysis on cost, for the lack of silos as
economic assets from 1966 to date.
And another, a generous one, to project
possible losses in future revenues, should this same lack of silos persist while
these two countries head for the EPA "stepping stone"
But it will be a waste of time to even ask for the labor now. The collaborative
effort on silo building should be
good enough an answer.
Hopefuly, the lesson is learned.
Good ideas are necessary for development. We should now refrain from
cannibalizing them. And for the good of Ghana and the Ivory Coast,
let's move on.
idea is next? Well, not more of the EPA type!
E. Ablorh-Odjidja, Publisher,
www.ghanadot.com, Washington, DC, June 23, 2017
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