“Ghana’s cocoa sector: added value is the panacea for rising youth unemployment in Ghana”


A key part of the discussion here in Ghana is the issue of youth unemployment. Ghana, like many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, is afflicted / or blessed by what is described as the explosion of youth.

This means that the majority of our growing populations are children and young adults.

Normally this bulge should pay a big dividend because this segment is naturally productive. However, many African countries seem unable to take advantage of this and are now plagued by the evils of unemployment. This has charged the discourse in Ghana over the past few years and this article argues that the cocoa value chain represents a viable response to it.

Every step of the value chain creates jobs, but our aim is to support that domestic transformation will move sustainable jobs from Europe to Africa. In addition, we argue that the opportunities of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will certainly provide a larger single market with countless opportunities for the cocoa value chain, once harnessed. At this point, cocoa makes up about 60% of the agricultural workforce for an average daily wage of $ 1. If we increased value added, the economy would retain 20% more income, which would bring about 5.2% more entrants into the labor market *. (Based on an extrapolation from www.odi.org)

For example, during the recent cocoa awards ceremony, our banking representation stumbled upon a remarkably simple yet amazing innovation in cocoa. KOA Impact, an interesting industry began the successful production of fruit juice using an often wasted part of cocoa – the pulp. Their delicious nectar has all the potential to trigger a value chain similar to that of the grape industry in Australia or California, as the scale for mass production already exists. Imagine the revenue portfolio, if this juice were to market to become the staple juice for the 300 million people of ECOWAS.

UMB as a bank is clear on the potential for added value of cocoa. Our bank has been focusing on this industry since 1972 (the year the UMB was established) and currently has 35% of all Local Purchasing Companies (LBCs). In the years to come, as part of government policy, we aim to become the bank of choice for other players in this value chain. We recently, for example, paved the way for structuring a multi-million dollar facility for an Indigenous business, a key fertilizer player in this industry, which gives credit to our continued support to this sector.

In summary, we affirm the argument. Theobroma (food for the gods) Cocoa presents a great opportunity to change the discourse on ever-growing youth unemployment by focusing on specific policy interventions. In this regard, COCOBOD’s aspiration to $ 50 billion worth of cocoa by 2030 is the kind of exciting policy direction, in this regard. These policy interventions must focus on adding value at all levels of the value chain. This is perhaps best achieved through an execution plan following the next steps and setting key milestones on the COCOBOD 2030 @ $ 50 billion aspiration.

On that note, on behalf of the management and colleagues of Universal Merchant Bank, we salute our hardworking farmers and fishermen, especially in the COCOA SECTOR. Ayekoo on FARMERS DAY 2021 and may we amplify Tetteh Quarshie’s legacy with 1 million jobs and $ 50 billion in revenue, by 2030.

This article was co-authored by:

Philemon Okyere Danquah

Philemon is Managing Director – Corporate Banking at Universal Merchant Bank (UMB). Philemon has over 2 decades of banking experience. His career has seen gradual growth in wholesale banking with significant stints at key financial companies. He currently heads the Corporate Banking unit of UMB. UMB is a leading Ghanaian bank with a particularly rich pedigree in wholesale banking services. The Bank was created in 1972 and has significant strengths in the agribusiness field.

Stephen ampadu

Stephen is Head of Research and Business Intelligence at the Universal Merchant Bank (UMB). Stephen is a thought leader with extensive expertise in economic and consumer research. It belongs to the emerging school in statistics which undertakes to structure the statistical and economic analysis adapted to the African experience and perspective. He is currently leading UMB’s efforts to provide data and analysis of the Ghanaian economy and other ECOWAS markets to SMEs. Stephen has been driving UMB’s legacy of providing a unique Ghanaian perspective to market data, since 1972.


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