The founder and flagbearer of the opposition Progressive People's Party (PPP), Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom, has described the Komenda Sugar Factory, which was commissioned by President John Mahama on Monday, as a good project.
In an address to some students of the University of Cape Coast (UCC), Dr Nduom said his company, Groupe Nduom, was ready to support the factory to achieve success.
However, the businessman raised five keys concerns regarding the viability and sustainability of the factory.
1. Raw material (sugarcane): Dr Nduom says there is no sugarcane available locally from which the factory can extract sugar.
“Sugar factory, but where is the sugarcane? They are not growing any sugarcane in Komenda or in Elmina or in Kissi or on any of those areas. I am old enough to know that I came to meet a sugar factory in Komenda and all over by the roadside they grew sugarcane. So, if we have put a factory there funded by the Indians and there are some Indian people there and they are now recruiting some Ghanaians, where is the sugarcane going to come from to be turned into sugar?"
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2. Importation: Dr Nduom says the absence of sugarcane demands that it is imported for use by the factory.
“What it means is that somebody is going to import the raw material to come to Ghana so that it can be processed and they will show it to us as sugar from Ghana and what will be the value added? When I look at it I say that is my tax money that they are playing with.”
3. Competiton: The PPP flagbearer questions whether there is a plan in place to ensure that the sugar produced is be competitive against imports.
4. Security: He wants to know whether the government will protect the factory's products and how it will do that.
5. Politics: Dr Nduom seeks to know the measures that have been put in place to ensure that the Komenda Sugar Factory is insulated from partisan politics, so that it is not abandoned when a party other than the NDC wins power.
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Dr Nduom points out that the concerns he has raised are meant to ensure that the factory does not end up like the Ayensu Starch Factory, the Kumasi Shoe Factory and the Pwalugu Tomato Factory, which were started under the NPP and NDC administrations, but have, according to him, proven less than able to deliver the projected jobs and sustainability.
He adds the fish processing factory sited in Elmina has also been underwhelming in its performance.