Cocoa beans or chocolate and confectionery?

To process or not to process in this 21st century?

A Ghanaian cocoa farmer dries cocoa beans under the sunshine on a plantation in Eastern Region, Ghana, on May 11, 2021.(Xinhua/Seth)
A Ghanaian cocoa farmer dries cocoa beans under the sunshine on a plantation in Eastern Region, Ghana, on May 11, 2021.(Xinhua/Seth)

“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek,” Joseph Campbell.

The industrialisation and the value addition road Africa has constantly refused to take all these decades since independence holds the keys to solving Africa’s socio-economic woes. No other way would lead Africa to growth, progress and development.

Among the top 10 best and most lucrative chocolate companies in the world today, none is African, while among the top 10 global cocoa producers four are African – Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Cameroon, and Nigeria – producing over over 3.7 million tonnes of cocoa, representing almost two-thirds of the total global cocoa production of about 5 million tonnes. Total global revenue of raw cocoa beans is about $10 billion while total global revenue of chocolate products is almost $102 billion, according to International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO) and Candy Industry (January 2020). Other sources put the 2021 figures at about 12 billion in global revenue from coco export and about $131 to $151 billion for global revenue from chocolate and confectionary. These figures are projected to hit about $ 15 billion and $171 billion in 2027 respectively.

Unfortunately, among the top 10 global chocolate and confectionary giants, none of the countries where these companies are located produces cocoa beans but yet they transform the cocoa beans from Africa and other parts of the world. Remember, it would take $ 100 – 200 million to build a big factory with a production capacity to transform between 500,000 to 1 million tonnes of cocoa every year. Note that Ghana produces less than one million tonnes every year while Côte d’Ivoire does about 2.2 million tonnes. Ghana receives about $ 2 billion from cocoa revenues while Côte d’Ivoire receives about $ 4 billion only. Yet, the top chocolate manufacturer in the world generates a revenue of over $ 18 billion annually. It’s worth noting that, Ghana could be making about $ 20 billion from the global chocolate market if it had the capacity to transform all its cocoa into chocolate or at least $ 10 billion transforming only 50% of its annual production. The questions are: where have we gone wrong? Have we missed the way till date?

“No one owes us a living. We cannot live by the begging bowl,” Lee Kuan Yew.

Look at The Top 10 Largest Chocolate Companies in the World in 2020 and their 2019 Net Sales.

1. Mars Wrigley Confectionery (USA),18 US$ billion.

2. Ferrero Group (Luxembourg / Italy),13 US$ billion.

3. Mondelēz International (USA), 11.8 US$ billion.

4. Meiji Co Ltd (Japan), 9.7 US$ billion.

5. Hershey Co (USA), 8.0 US$ billion.

6. Nestlé SA (Switzerland), 7.9 US$ billion.

7. Lindt & Sprüngli AG (Switzerland), 4.6 US$ billion.

8. Pladis (UK), 4.5 US$ billion.

9. Ezaki Glico Co Ltd (Japan), 3.2 US$ billion.

10. Orion Corp (South Korea), 1.8 US$ billion.

Source: ICCO.

Folks, family and friends, industrialisation, manufacturing and value addition have been known and proven to be the surest ways to develop and create wealth and prosperity for current and future generations. The multi-billion-dollar questions are: Does it take rocket science knowledge to build factories, industries and plants in Africa to transform our primary products? Has Africa had true leaders since independence? If yes, did they go to sleep after independence, expecting to wake up after 100 years, i.e, about 2060 to see an industrialised and a well developed Africa?

I’m always not happy about African leadership since independence, at the same time hungry to become one of African leaders in any capacity at the national and continental levels, in the shortest possible time, insha Allah. I want to see Africa industrialised, developed, prosperous and self-sustaining and self-sufficient before I die.
It’s highly possible. These are the key ingredients needed in Africa now: Leadership, vision, Entrepreneurship and Investments will do that trick in Africa just within a generation, yeah, a generation like Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong, China, India, Rwanda, Morocco, etc.

“Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different result,” Albert Einstein.

Africa and for that matter Ghana must rise up and do things differently in this generation.

Thank you.

Joel Degue,
Entrepreneur and Resource Development Consultant.

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