Ghana and three other cocoa-producing countries in Africa have been charged to set the target to produce a minimum of 40 per cent of the world’s chocolate in the next 50 years.
The Majority Chief Whip of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Professor Olusola Adeyeye, who threw the challenge, said it was sad that whereas Ghana, Nigeria, Cote d'Ivoire and Cameroun produced 66 per cent of the world's cocoa, they had not been able to derive the monetary returns from the crop because they had failed to add value to it.
Prof. Adeyeye was delivering the 30th anniversary lecture of the renowned Ghanaian politician and nationalist, Mr William Ofori-Atta (Paa Willie), in Accra last Wednesday.
The lecture, on the theme: "Cardinal imperatives for a new Africa", was to celebrate the life and contribution of Mr Ofori-Atta to the socio-political and overall national development process.
It was organised by the William Ofori-Atta Heritage and attended by state officials, members of academia, members of the Diplomatic Corps and a cross-section of the public.
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Prof. Adeyeye said it was shocking that whereas Ghana and the other three African countries controlled 66 per cent of cocoa production in the world, four other countries, namely, the United States (US), Switzerland, Belgium and Germany, were responsible for 65 per cent of the world's chocolate production.
"The paradox of these two sets of facts is that in 2017 chocolate sales raked in $20 million, $14 million, $12 million and $10 million for the US, Switzerland, Belgium and Germany, respectively, totaling $56 million.
"It is shocking that the combined national budget of the four African countries that control 66 per cent of the world's cocoa production is less than the chocolate revenue of just four Western countries," he pointed out.
Accordingly, he urged the governments of the four countries to formulate bold industrialisation policies that would facilitate their transition from export dependent states to manufacturing economies.
He said the industrialisation agenda would require massive investments in capital and human resource to scale the challenge.
"It is clear that having the raw materials is not enough; there must be primary machinery, ancillary facilities, an enabling environment, corporate tenacity, requisite manpower, plus appropriate supervisory and managerial skills, to profitably run an industrial plant," he added.
On governance, the Nigerian Senator said the time had come for Ghana and other countries in Africa to elect visionary and upright leaders who would stand their ground and weed out corruption to pave the way for the growth of their economies.
"It is sad that governments in Africa have been turned into ‘corruptocracy’ where we have government of the corrupt, by the corrupt and for the corrupt, where cronyism, nepotism and tribalism get elevated, while merit is dethroned, with the attendant loss of confidence in the government," he said.
He commended Ghana for having a relatively stable democracy, particularly in the Fourth Republic, but emphasised that it was important for tribalism and ethnocentrism to be discarded from the national discourse if the country wanted to consolidate the gains made.
Prof. Adeyeye said it was imperative that African countries invest more in the education of the younger generation to build a strong human resource base for the transformation agenda.
He said there was the need to prioritise civic, technological and citizenship education to lead that agenda.
For her part, a former Vice-President of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Prof. Akua Kuenyehia, said the call on citizens to elect upright and visionary was non-negotiable.
She observed that corrupt leaders did not only mortgage the opportunities for the country to develop but also endangered the lives of future generations.