Will Ghana’s New Cocoa-Chocolate Policy Change the Game?

Will Ghana’s New Cocoa-Chocolate Policy Change the Game?

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Ghana is a rustic in West Africa which spans the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean. It is residence to a wide range of ethnic teams and can be the gorgeous nation that gifted us all the colourful Kente cloth. West Africa produces about 70% of the world’s cocoa and Ghana is accountable for at the least 45% of all cocoa produced globally. Earlier this yr, the Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo made a daring and wide-reaching pronouncement. He shared that Ghana would no longer sell and export its cocoa to its Western buying and selling companions however will as an alternative start to course of as much as 50% of all its cocoa into chocolate.

Now on the floor, this doesn’t appear to be that massive of a deal. I imply what could be the large deal if the US decides to halt the sale of its corn? Or if Mexico begins to make its personal Tequila from scratch? To allow you to perceive why this can be a massive deal, maybe, I must share a bit in regards to the relationship between African nations and their Western counterparts. Frankly talking, this relationship is at its core, a primarily exploitative one. For over 2 hundred years of colonialism, Western nations have plundered and exploited African uncooked supplies, sending them over to their nations for processing into completed items whereas refusing to develop refining capacities within the areas from the place they’re cheaply sourced.

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Cocoa processing in Ghana. Photo: Konrad Lembcke.

Fast ahead to the trendy period and never a lot has modified. This steady exploitation of African nations for palm oil, tin, gold, cocoa and different assets interprets to African economies being constructed solely across the exportation of their uncooked supplies. It additionally signifies that the continent misses out on the large positive factors related to completed merchandise. Many African nations are poor and have to simply accept this as a result of it takes time, experience and a wholesome monetary system to develop refining talents. Even when constructed, the completed merchandise may not generate overseas trade instantly so these nations additionally select to not compromise their overseas trade earnings.

The cocoa trade produced roughly 4.5 million tons of cocoa in 2020 which is forecasted to achieve 4.76 million tons by 2025. For its half, the worldwide chocolate trade which consumes 45% of all cocoa produced is valued at a whopping $137 billion dollars. For the nations of West Africa that produce a lot of the world’s cocoa, because of lack of refining talents, has solely about 3-6% of the world’s chocolate market. Here’s the reality: Swiss chocolate is not only Swiss chocolate, its cocoa is sourced from Ghana. Belgium is the chocolate capital of the world solely as a result of Ghana is the second cocoa capital of the world. A fast calculation exhibits that Ghana stands to achieve much more worth for its cocoa if it strikes in the direction of getting a share of the chocolate market. For this cause, this determination by Ghana is a far reaching one with the potential to unlock a whole lot of social and financial alternatives.

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For one, if Ghana sees this by, a direct consequence could be the creation of a extra levelled taking part in floor for African artisan chocolate manufacturers. At current, Ghana’s economic system is geared in the direction of the manufacturing of cocoa. This is as a result of the nation generates a lot wanted overseas trade {dollars} from the sale of the commodity. The worth in completed chocolate is generally generated and decided by corporations in Europe and America. Ghanaian corporations had been beforehand discouraged from manufacturing chocolate owing to a 60% tax on chocolate sales within the nation. Ghana’s present deal with chocolate manufacturing now means higher situations for corporations making chocolate within the nation which has a multiplier impact on the economic system from jobs to extra buying energy.


In 2019, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire suspended the sales of cocoa to some Western nations for his or her refusal to pay premium costs able to bettering the lives of the cocoa farmers in West Africa. Such behaviour is nothing new for multinational corporations and the chocolate provide chain has been plagued with numerous related points. One of essentially the most troubling is using child labour in cocoa production. Some of the world’s greatest chocolate producers equivalent to Mars, Hershey and Nestle have at numerous occasions been held accountable for complicity on this. It is simple to see why. These provide chains are managed by mega firms whose solely loyalty is to their product, their earnings and their shareholders. A brand new system the place the nation wherein uncooked supplies are sourced additionally has management of its processing is more likely to create a extra sustainable ecosystem that works for the welfare of its residents.

Perilous occasions lie forward for the Ghana cocoa trade. If completed proper, this is able to mark a turning level for African relationships with the Western nations. However, if poorly executed, it might additional sink the trade and cede extra management to the mega firms. I take solace In the phrases of James Baldwin who wrote, “Not every part that’s confronted might be modified, however nothing might be modified till it’s confronted.” Ghana has confronted this and like billions of Africans the world over, I’m cheering for them. I hope you’re too.

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Cover picture of Asante Bismark drying cocoa beans close to his farm in Kyekyewere, Ghana by Mwangi Kirubi.

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