Ahead of the announcement of freight charges for the 2021/2022 cocoa season on Friday, September 10, the government has asked stakeholders in the cocoa value chain to ensure competitive, transparent and cost effective rates.
Addressing stakeholders at the Annual Cocoa Freight Negotiation Conference in Accra on Friday, Mr Kwaku Ofori Asiama, the Minister of Transport, in a speech read on his behalf, said the cocoa industry played a pivotal role in the country’s socio-economic welbeing through the provision of revenue, employment and livelihoods.
Therefore, the freight charges that would be reached at the end of the negotiations should be well-thought through and must be mutually beneficial to all parties.
Mr Asiama said in view of the significant increase in volumes of the country’s seaborne trade, government had begun expansion of infrastructure at the Tema and Takoradi Ports container terminals to accommodate larger vessels.
He said, for instance, the shipment of volumes of goods were a significant increase from 15.8 million metric tonnes to 26.4 million in 2020.
The Minister also acknowledged the digitisation of the operations at the Tema Port and believed it was improving efficiency and competitiveness.
He cited the Takoradi Port Masterplan Expansion programme with multipurpose container terminal as measures put in place by the government to ensure efficiency and making Ghana the hub of seaborne trade in the sub-region.
Mr Vincent Okyere Akomeah, the Managing Director of Cocoa Marketing Company Limited, in his welcome address, assured the Company’s readiness to providing quality services in terms of warehousing, marketing and distribution of the country’s cocoa beans.
He noted that despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020/2021 cocoa season had been good, recording the highest cocoa production in the country’s history with 1.2 million metric tonnes.
He said the Company was restructuring its operations to meet the demands of its customers due to the global pandemic.
Ms Benonita Bismarck, the Chief Executive of the Ghana Shippers’ Authority, on her part, underscored the need for players in the shipping industry to take advantage of digitisation to enhance efficiency and competitiveness in service delivery.
She said a multi-stakeholder committee had been constituted to ensure standard procedures in daily business activities at the ports.
The Cocoa Freight Negotiation Conference is taking place in Ghana for the third time since the event started in over two decades.
The event creates a conducive platform for stakeholders in the cocoa value chain to negotiate acceptable cocoa freight rates across all destinations.
Last year’s cocoa freight rates were pegged at £30 per tonne to the United Kimgdom, £49 to Northern Continent, £56 to Estonia, €55 to Mediterranean Europe, $94 to the Far East and $103 to Brazil.