Komenda is in the Edina-Komenda-Eguafo-Abirem Municipal Assembly of the Central Region, I visited Komenda to have a view of the recently launched Komenda Sugar Factory. The factory is located some 15 minutes’ drive after a branch off the main Cape Coast Takoradi Road and at the outskirt of the main Komenda township. The objective of the trip was to understand as a development person, the contribution of the factory on the economic livelihoods of the people leaving in and around the factory.
Komenda is an average economically vibrant community. The pre-occupations of the citizens are farming and fishing. There are very visible signs that it’s a town with high youthful population with quite a high number of children of school going age. I got to the town when schools had closed. I was excited seeing several school children who had closed from school strolling home. I got the positive impression that the town placed premium on education, therefore, most household children who were of school going age where in school as the case should be.
At the sea side you can see the fishermen taking time off to repair their canoes and mending their fishing nets for their next sea adventure. The men look very busy and serious.
The Komenda town has one rural bank; Akatakyiman Rural Bank, two other microfinance companies, a post office, fire service and a police stations. I also gathered that there are activities of credit unions that are not located in the town; however its officers visit frequently to provide the needed services to clients.
By and large, the Komenda factory is a huge investment. I am yet to see any complex and grand factory of its kind in Ghana. The fact remains that this is not the first kind of such investment seen by the town. Within the heart of the town is located the remains of the first sugar factory which was built during Kwame Nkrumah’s time and was known as Ghasel. The administration building of the dilapidated Ghasel factory can be seen. However, the entire structure for the factory itself is buried in a thick forest. Some of the locals also indicated to me that the metal fabrications used for the machines had been removed and sold as scraps.
It is obvious that the decision to site the new sugar plants in Komenda might have been influenced by the fact that, historically, there was a similar project sited there by Ghana’s first president Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. This therefore implies that consideration was given to the fact that the environment has been tried and tasted to serve the purpose of growing the variety of the sugarcane plant that is the main raw material needed to feed the factory. And Komenda and its surrounding towns and villages cultivate the raw material-sugar needed for the sugar factory.
My visit to the factory reveals that the main factory plant is not 100% completed however, even with a non-technical eye, the portion yet to be completed will not be anything more than 10%-20%. A tour of the factory will show that there are still some works on-going. The warehouses as well as the machine or repair houses are all yet to be completed. Actually on the day of the visit there was not much activity going on in and around the factory. Some staff numbering about 10 together with some experts were working within the magnificent plant. The factory was under maintenance. I gathered that maintenance work will last about one month. The factory was under maintenance and I gathered the maintenance work will last about a month to complete.
The Komenda Sugar Factory is a massive investment which will go a long way to improve the Ghanaian local economy by cutting down on our imports for refined sugar. And additionally transform the immediate economic fortunes of Komenda and its surrounding towns and villages thereby ultimately having a positive toll on the livelihoods of the people in that part of the central region who for lack of economic activities are ranked as part of the deprived regions of Ghana. Informal jobs alone are a huge boost if particular attention is paid to indigenes mainly youths from the areas that are unemployed. If managers and all stakeholders play their part effective it will be a game-changer in the economic activities of the areas with Komenda being the main center of attraction.
From the visit, it was clear that securing the needed raw material for the factory to produce at it optimum level of efficiency will be a huge challenge. Actually this challenge is known and acknowledged by the people I interacted with who somehow are connected to the project in question. They believe and I share in the fact that this will be the make or break event for this project.
The lack of the raw material calls for a critical action other than that the intents and purposes for embarking on this gargantuan-economic project will face sustainability issues. We cannot talk about whether the sugarcane should have been planted before finishing of the project or finishing the project before planting. This is an egg and chicken debate and it will not solve the problem at hand. What is clear is that there was something wrong with the project implementation. What the managers of the project quickly need to do is to develop a more comprehensive approach to ensuring that the vast land within the project area is cultivated to provide the raw materials for the project. Currently the land under cultivation is not anything to write home about compared to the magnitude of the factory. The sugarcane plantation as it looks cannot be successful without an effective irrigation system. There must be an all-year-round source of water to irrigate the farm for cultivation. This kind of project cannot depend on water from rivers or the rains which can fail. Also, managers and owners can encourage inhabitants of Komenda and surrounding towns and villages who grow sugarcanes to increase their cultivation. Additionally, other parts of the country which are sugarcane growing regions should be given a good deal at competitive prices for their efforts in growing sugarcane to augment the much needed raw materials for the factory.
If we fail to provide the needed logistics to secure the raw material for the factory, notwithstanding the fact that I have not seen the financial outlay of the factory, it is clear that without these raw materials, achieving the scale and sustainability of the sugar factory as a business entity will seriously be a mirage. The factory must be operative before it can contribute meaningfully to improving the micro economy of Komenda and its surroundings and the Ghanaian local economy eventually.
Author: Roderick Ayeh || Microfinance Consultant