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President commissions GH¢175.4m plant at Nestlé

BY: Benjamin Glover & Della Russel Ocloo
President Akufo-Addo (2nd from left) being briefed by Mauricio Alarcon (3rd from right), Chief Executive Officer, Nestle Central and West Africa Region. With them is Alan  Kyerematen (left back to camera), Minister of Trade and Industry. Picture: SAMUEL TEI ADANO
President Akufo-Addo (2nd from left) being briefed by Mauricio Alarcon (3rd from right), Chief Executive Officer, Nestle Central and West Africa Region. With them is Alan Kyerematen (left back to camera), Minister of Trade and Industry. Picture: SAMUEL TEI ADANO

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has commissioned an expanded infant cereal plant at Nestlé Ghana Limited in Tema.

The GH¢175.4 million project is expected to increase the company's production capacity of Cerelac, an infant formula, by 6,700 tonnes annually.

The plant is under phase one of the company’s expansion programme to increase its export to 24 more African countries.

The company is also seeking to invest an additional GH¢55.6 million into phase two of the project in 2023, which will bring the total investment to GH¢231 million to increase the plant’s production capacity from 13,000 tonnes to 19,700 tonnes annually.

This will ensure the country becomes the main production and supply hub in West and Central Africa.

Partnership

President Akufo-Addo, who commissioned the plant yesterday, said the investment by Nestlé reinforced the strategic partnership between the government and the private sector to improve the welfare and living standards of the people.

He said the evolution of Nestlé symbolised the commitment of the company to the growth and development of the nation, adding that the successes by the company, which presently has 1,200 workers, should motivate other private sector players in the country to also develop global brands.

The President further said that since assumption of office in 2017, the government had taken deliberate steps to re-direct the focus of investment priorities of the country by mobilising resources for the growth of identified sectors.

He said such interventions were to enhance the country’s outlook from being a mere producer of raw materials to one of a value-added industrialised economy that would provide job opportunities and prosperity for all, especially the youth.

State of economy

The President, however, said the combined effect of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine had devastated the country’s economy.

“Although the bombs might be falling in the cities and towns thousands of miles away, Ghana and Africa are feeling the effects of the war, and

I believe the challenges from these two events are clear indication that the country must seek to enhance the productive capacity of the manufacturing sector to add value to the natural resources and deepen economic self-reliance.

“We are confident that the private sector, in partnership with the government, will rise to the occasion with innovative ideas to help the economy regain its strength,” he added.

President Akufo-Addo also urged the business community in Africa to seize opportunities offered by the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS) and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement to create regional and continental markets to push intra-African trade to build a prosperous continent.

Significance

The Minister of Trade and Industry, Alan Kyerematen, said while the new plant would create additional employment for nearly 800 people, it would also go a long way to boost the government’s strategic efforts of import substitution, especially in sectors where there was local capacity for value addition.

Under a 10-point industrial transformation programme, he said the ministry would focus on scaling up existing production capacity in selected sectors of the economy.

“Our double track strategy of promoting both import substitution and export development is yielding concrete results and for the past two years, the country has enjoyed a trade surplus of about $2 billion and $1.1 billion in 2020 and 2021, respectively, in spite of the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on industrial production,” he said.

Bilateral relations

The Ambassador of Switzerland to Ghana, Togo and Benin, Philipp Stalder, said Switzerland, the home of Nestlé, and Ghana had enjoyed strong bilateral relations and that the investment made by Nestle represented a belief by Swiss companies in the potential of the Ghanaian economy.

For his part, the Chief Executive Officer of Nestlé - Central and West Africa Region, Mauricio Alarcon, said as of the end of 2021, over 150,000 farmers in the country and other parts of Central and West Africa had benefited from capacity-building and economic empowerment programmes under the Nestlé Cocoa, Cereal and Nescafé Plan interventions.

The Managing Director of Nestlé Ghana, Georgios Badaro, also said nearly 90 per cent of Nestlé products in the country were fortified with key micronutrients to help address nutrition challenges, including iron deficiency that prevailed in the country.