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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 November 2005, 23:59 GMT
Ghana's sweet taste of global success
By Orla Ryan
In Accra, Ghana

No matter how hot it gets in Ghana's capital Accra, Golden Tree chocolate never seems to melt.

Street vendor selling chocolate in Accra
Chocolate that does not melt makes life easier for street vendors

It is an incredible advantage for chocolate vendors who jostle with those selling football shirts, water and coconuts to push their wares through car windows in the many traffic jams that clog up the city.

Cocoa Processing Company (CPC) has been making chocolate since 1965 and says it has mastered the art of making chocolate able to withstand the African sun.

Ghana is the world's-second biggest cocoa producer after neighbouring Ivory Coast and CPC is a rare example of an African company adding value to its core product.

Wooing investors

Much of the world's cocoa may come from West Africa, but as is the situation in many African commodity exporters, most of the value is added in Europe and America when it is turned into cocoa butter, cake and liquor - the ingredients for chocolate and confectionery.

A girl sorts cocoa beans in a village in northern Ghana
Cocoa beans on their own bring little profits

Currently, only about 20% of Ghana's cocoa beans are processed locally by companies such as CPC, West African Mills and international cocoa giant Barry Callebaut.

The Ghanaian government wants to see this percentage double and cocoa regulator Cocobod says it has several applications to set up processing facilities in Ghana, with investors attracted by the high quality of Ghanaian beans and incentives such as access to cheaper beans.

Tough sell

Cocoa firm Barry Callebaut is among those looking to process more beans in Ghana.

It is to double its processing capacity to 60,000 tonnes by the beginning of next year, managing director Gotzon de Aguirre says.

Similarly, CPC is also to double its processing capacity to 65,000 tonnes by the end of next year, CPC managing director Richard Amarh Tetteh says.

CPC makes chocolate for export to America and other countries and regions, but it has to jump through several hoops to do so, a fact that makes the African market more attractive.

"We can sell in America, by going through these guys who have gone through the processes and established the brand," Mr Amarh Tetteh says.

More jobs

Some international firms say that processing cocoa beans in Ghana mean they only have access to local beans, which is no good when they want a choice of flavours from around the world.

Erratic power supply is also a disadvantage.

Richard Amarh Tetteh shows some of Golden Tree's products
Mr Amarh Tetteh hopes to profit from processing

The irony is that even as Ghana tries to make more money from processing its beans into semi-finished or finished products, in the automated world of international confectionery where the real value lies with the brand and not with the bar of chocolate, it seems unlikely this will lead to more jobs.

The Barry Callebaut factory employs 70 people and while CPC currently employs 600 people, it says that the high level of automation means the doubling of its capacity is unlikely to lead to more jobs.

For CPC's Richard Amarh Tetteh however, the logic to adding value is clear.

"We can't forever be suppliers of raw beans or semi finished products, which have very little margin."

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