THE POLITICS OF INDUSTRIALIZING A DEVELOPING COUNTRY IN A POLARIZED STATE
Sugar used to be a luxury. Something that only the rich could afford. Sugar was indeed a sweetener and was expensive. Those who could have sugar cubes on their tables were considered rich and important in society.
So was it such that, anyone who had a little exposure in Africana Studies would understand its importance in the affairs of the world during the slave trade.
Africans were captured in the hinterlands and made to walk for days to the shores before they were exported to the South Americas and other places to work on sugar cane plantations.
Labour was not expended for nothing. The produce was exported to countries that guaranteed returns on the ‘investments’ which was characterized with cheap labour.
So even in Africa, unlike today when we see sugar and assume it an ordinary product that is virtually present in all places, although I wouldn’t doubt if there are some humans who have not tasted it before, the case was worse, so much that, those who could afford to have sugar in their food were among the elites.
It was not of a surprise that some black leaders took it upon themselves pro independence era, to establish sugar production factories to make the scare commodity available and cheaper.
The Komenda Sugar factory was among some 416 factories according to history, established by Ghana’s first president Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.
Komenda, like any of the other factories and industries established was consciously done to place the state in a position of production to satisfy the needs of the people at realistic prices.
Conscious efforts were made by subsequent governments after the overthrow of the Osagyefo to render the many industries incapacitated. The beginning of the era of the collapse of these industries was the famous Apollo 568 where some 568 public sector workers at top management levels of these industries were sacked by the UP tradition.
In their place, friends and cronies who had no technical knowledge on the running of these industries were appointed to man them leading to their eventual collapse.
One cannot appreciate this in isolation without looking at the interests that might have informed the collapse of these industries. The pursuit for quick profit could not be left out.
The capitalists at the time, were presented an opportunity. To produce at a cost higher than the cost of importation. As humans, the quick option dominated the activities of those capitalists of the time. Efforts were adopted to open the Ghanaian economy for imports of products that hitherto, were produced locally.
As could be deducted, the act had made competition difficult for local industries as prices of products imported whether of same or higher quality, remained cheaper. Ghana was the ultimate loser.
The capitalists and their interests – profit, became the engine that drove the economy. Governments have seen the collapse of strategic industries like the Jute Factory, Glass Factory, Komenda Sugar Factory, the Cattle Ranch, the Kumasi Shoe Factory, among others.
Against this backdrop, it should be of ultimate interest to many to see the bringing back to life, projects that drove this economy on the path of prosperity in the past – Kumasi Shoe Factory, Pwalugu Tomatoes Factory, Tema Oil Refinery, Buipe Shea Processing Factory, and the latest, Komenda Sugar Factory.
It has been reported that sugar importation sums up to an annual figure of $300 million. It has also been placed on record that, the capacity of the Komenda Sugar Factory would cater for 50 per cent of total sugar consumption in the country measuring up in nominal terms $150 million per annum.
This singular activity is expected to raffle some feathers. The feathers of those who have had the monopoly of importing 100 per cent of sugar into the country. A 50 per cent cut by a company wholly owned by government must be expected to annoy businessmen who were making super or abnormal profits.
The attempts to ridicule the entire project by dwelling on misreportage of the media to the effect that there are no raw materials for the factory can be understood. When businessmen turn politicians and own media houses, you cannot bargain for less.
Suffice it to say that the arguments were valid, what would those projecting those arguments on these matter say about this: What if the sugar cane was ready ahead of production, and in the course of building the plant, there becomes an unforseen challenge causing delay in completion of the plant? Would those asking for sugar cane ahead of the factory be calling for compensation for the farmers whose produce would be going bad?
Well, I would leave the answers to you.