In the first part of our One District, One Factory (1D1F) series, we focussed on the shortage of raw materials and financial challenges grounding a number of factories under the initiative. In the second part of the series, The Fourth Estate found that a number of the newly built factories have been abandoned while some that are operational employ much fewer people than the government claimed.
In the following report, some members of the second cohort of the Next Generation Investigative Journalism Fellowship, reporting for The Fourth Estate, visited some 1D1F facilities across the country and recount the failures and frustrations of managers of the factories.
Western North Region
It’s been over a year since the Akontombra Rice Processing common user facility was commissioned, but not a ton of rice has been processed by the factory. It was expected to produce 1.5 to 2.8 tonnes of rice per hour.
The rice processing factory was supposed to provide direct employment to about 118 residents and engage over 600 farmers in the municipality, according to the One District One Factory secretariat.
When The Fourth Estate visited the 6.7 million cedis facility, its gate was locked, while grass had begun to decorate the fence. According to residents, the factory had not been operational since it was commissioned by President Nana Akufo-Addo in 2021.
Patrick Armah, a rice farmer, is still hopeful a solution would be found to their plight.
“The factory would have been a solution to all the constraints we face to process our rice into finished products. Due to the lack of machines, we find it very difficult to supply our rice in huge quantities,” he said.
The Municipal Chief Executive for Akontombra, Yawson Amoah, explained that one of the factors delaying the operations of the factory is the lack of a board. He said although the factory was built by the government, there was now an ongoing process to involve the private sector.
Bia West District
The Chief of Essam, Nana Kweku Enini Barffour, told The Fourth Estate that he did not see the need for a rice factory since the district was largely into cocoa farming. The government, however, sunk millions into the building of a Rice processing factory at Yawmatwa.
When The Fourth Estate visited the project site in November 2022, the factory was closed and its premises were overgrown with weeds.
“The building is very small as compared to the ones in Berekum and Akontombra. To make things worse, they have abandoned it for more than a year” a resident of Essam, the district capital of Bia West, told The Fourth Estate. “It’s just a waste of money,” he added.
The Head of Central Administration for the Bia West District, Alex Cudjoe Mensah, said the factory was not commissioned because it lacked some equipment, including a transformer for stable electricity.
At the Bewadze community in the Gomoa West District of the Central region sits the GHc 14 million Casa de Ropa factory, which was to serve as a source of employment for over 1000 locals.
The factory was to process orange-fleshed potatoes into biscuits, bread, chips and other products.
Two years after its commissioning, however, it stopped working.
“It’s been more than a year and nothing has happened here”, a security guard at the factory told The Fourth Estate.
It was estimated that the factory would produce, 250 tonnes of these products every 6 months.
The factory’s management did not agree to an interview with The Fourth Estate.
In 2019, Debridge Industries Limited was listed as one of the factories that were to begin operations by the end of the year. This was contained in a parliamentary memorandum issued by the finance minister. The state of the factory, however, was far from one that was ready to commence operations.
The only evidence of a factory was the machines and foundations overgrown with weeds and secured by a makeshift gate made from aluminum and wood. The tile adhesive manufacturing company is an already existing one with a branch in Accra.
It was partnered by the government to expand to the Central Region.
According to the owner of the factory, Tony Kwansaare, he received the sum of GH 10 million Ghana from the Ghana Commercial Bank (GCB) as part of the 1D1F initiative.
And though the factory was yet to commence operations, the owner said the bank had been breathing on his neck to pay back the loan advanced to him.
“It is GCB that is financing the project and they are saying it is a long time since we started and we haven’t completed and so they are taking their money back. Where do I get the money to pay you back when we have sunk a lot of money into it and the project is not completed for me to start working to pay?”
The factory was to have a plant that produces 7,000 bags of tiles per day. The estimated 60 to 80 people that are to be employed by the factory continue to wait for the factory to be completed.
Residents of Komenda in the Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abirem Municipality of the Central Region describe the Komenda Sugar Factory as a white elephant.
The factory was yet to start working when The Fourth Estate visited, despite assurances from President Akufo-Addo that it was going to start working in April 2022.
“We were praying that it would begin operations again so that we can get some money to take care of our families. When it was operating, they employed a lot of people here but now they are not doing anything over there. They’ll just leave it to break down again”, a resident complained.
The factory, which was established in 1964, ceased operations in the early 1990s due to technical difficulties. It was again renovated and inaugurated by then-President John Mahama in May 2016, but work stopped not long after. Currently, the Komenda Sugar factory is under Nana Akufo- Addo’s 1D1F. At the time The Fourth Estate visited the factory, it was in a good state, but there was no indication of production there.
According to some residents and the security person The Fourth Estate met, the last time sugar was produced at the factory was when President Akufo-Addo visited the factory in September 2022. The Assembly Member of the area, Albert Kwofie, said that production was only a test run of the factory.
Farmers who were supplying raw materials to the factory say they were not well-paid for their produce, a reason they stopped growing sugarcane and are now into watermelon farming.
Asamoah and Yamoah Farms
The Asamoah and Yamoah Farms is an already existing poultry farm, which the government partnered to expand in Anyinam in the Atwima-Kwanwoma District.
At Nkoranza, the factory which the government through the 1D1F Secretariat claims had employed 120 local residents under the 1D1F, has been abandoned and taken over by weeds in the bush.
When The Fourth Estate visited the factory, it was evident that since the structure was built and roofed, no other activity had gone on.
Springs Bolts Company Limited (SBCL)
Springs Bolts Company Limited (SBCL) in the Asokwa Municipality was incorporated in January 2013. The Fourth Estate visited the facility on two occasions, but didn’t meet its managers.
However, the wholly Ghanaian-owned company had pictures on its walls that suggested it was part of the 1D1F project. A food seller adjacent the company told The Fourth Estate that the company’s fortunes had been dwindling for some time now. According to Joan, some workers of the company have been laid off as a result.
“Even one of the guys who used to buy water from me is no longer coming, and I don’t know why they are not coming. It’s been about five months since they were laid off.”
According to a sub-chief at the Kaase Traditional Area, Nana Kofi Yeboah, whose nephew worked at the factory, there was low productivity in the company at the moment.
Unijay Garments Limited
Unijay Garments Limited has been operating since 1982. The garment factory already has two premises in Kumasi and one in Accra, at Kwabenya.
According to the CEO of the company, Mrs. Janet Abobigu, the government is paying 10 percent out of the 20 percent interest of the 10 million loan facility it got from Prudential Bank. The loan facility was to help the company to build a two-storey facility and be able to employ a “maximum” of 2,500 people.
However, she told The Fourth Estate that the installment payment from the bank had not been as arranged. This, she said, had delayed the building of the two-storey factory, which was started in 2020.
“So, we need more help. There is [a] money problem. We got money from the bank but it is not enough to finish the factory.”
In 2019, the government said Unijay Garments had earlier received GHS2.5 million from Prudential Bank prior to the 10 million loan facility.
Although the government says the project has been completed and is employing 1,700 people, the situation on the ground contradicts the claim. Apart from the fact that the building is yet to be completed, Mrs. Abobigu told The Fourth Estate that her company employed 300 people.
Feanza Industries at Esiama in the Ellembelle District has existed for over twenty years, producing virgin coconut oil for retail and wholesale.
Though a memorandum of understanding to parliament, the Ministry of Finance said the company had employed 160 people, The Fourth Estate found that the factory employs only 20 people.
As if the deplorable nature of the facility is not enough, Feanza is also struggling with raw materials and a good market from Ghanaians.
Kaku Kyiamah, the Managing Director of the coconut and palm kernel-producing factory, said the illegal smuggling of coconut from Ghana to neighbouring countries and increasing prices of coconut were affecting their production.
Bibiani Logging Limited
Although Bibiani Logging Limited has been listed as a beneficiary of the 1D1F initiative, managers of the facility said the company was not part of the initiative.
The handlers of the over-40-year-old facility at Kaase in the Asokwa Municipality said they had sent an application to benefit from the policy but their application was not accepted.
They said they had not received any support from the government. A sub-chief at the Kaase Traditional Area, Nana Kofi Yeboah, said he was not aware that the company was part of the 1D1F programme. According to a communique by the government, this company has employed more than 1,100 people.
At Abura in the Ahanta West District of the Western Region, the new Ghana Rubber Estate Limited (GREL) was in operation.
The 24-million-euro project is reported to have been constructed within a year and has the capacity to add value to about 75 percent of raw rubber produced by GREL. The new factory is expected to create jobs for 260 people.
The Fourth Estate was not allowed entry into the factory.
Birim Oil Mills
The Birim Oil Mills, a palm oil processing factory located at Abaam in the Kwaebibirem Municipality, started operating fully after it received funding from the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) and Ecobank under the 1D1F initiative in 2018.
This support was to open up some 10,000 employment opportunities to residents in the production of soaps, personal wash detergents, refined cooking oil and edible palm oil.
But after four years of the recapitalisation, the company has employed only sixty (60) people.
“We are facing problems with the supply of raw materials, especially because we have competitors. We need to increase our prices because prices from suppliers have increased. Yet we cannot do so. We constantly face challenges from farming plantations to production due to land issues,” one worker who pleaded anonymity told The Fourth Estate.
On his part, the Sterilizer Operator, Charles Yeboah, said the company lacked financial support to produce at a maximum capacity, adding that, with proper investment, the company could even supply nearby communities with electricity from the power it generates while operating.
Meanwhile, opinion leaders in the community believe that the government’s support was not sufficient.
“The government wasted taxpayers’ money. After the support, things were going quite well, but later they stopped paying the workers, not even their SSINT. The money is small, and they don’t pay at the end of the month. Sometimes, they have to demonstrate before they get their money,” an opinion leader at Abaam, Danquah Appiah, said.
“When we supply them with the raw materials, they don’t pay on time. It will take three to four weeks before farmers are paid, so we stopped selling it to them,” he added.
Nano Foods Limited at Nsawam Adoagyiri
The revamping of Nano Foods Limited in the Nsawam Adoagyiri Municipality was made possible through a US$1.6 million capital support from Ghana Export-Import Bank (EXIM Bank) facilitated by the 1D1F Secretariat. The amount was used to install a pineapple processing and canning line, together with a modern and efficient quality control laboratory.
In May 2021, Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, commissioned the revamped factory which came out of the defunct ASTEK Refresh Pineapple Juice Company in the 1980s and 1990s and was only producing ASTEK Nsu sachet water since it was revived in 2014.
At the commissioning, the Vice President claimed that Nano Foods had already provided about 100 direct jobs to the youth in the area, and can process up to 6,000 metric tons of pineapple fruits into juice per year.
This translates to 8 million cans of finished products per year, serving both the local and export markets of the USA, Europe and the Middle East.
Residents of Nsawam Adoagyiri said they had not seen a single product from the revived company, and the few indigenes working at the factory are employed based on party affiliation.
“From my house to the company is a stone’s throw, but I haven’t seen any products from them though they said they were going to produce for the local and international markets. We are not benefiting from any 1D1F initiative here in Nsawam”, Owusu Anto, a 69-year-old resident lamented.
“We don’t even know what they are doing in terms of their products and employment. We want to be employed but the bureaucracy there is no joke. Nothing has changed since they joined the 1D1F initiative and we’re not happy at all” 24-year-old Joel Amoah told The Fourth Estate.
When the team reached out to the Nsawam Adoagyiri Municipal Assembly, the assembly said it was yet to receive an update from Nano Foods after a year of its operations.
“We had a stakeholders’ engagement and invited them, but they didn’t show up. And because it’s a private entity, the assembly doesn’t poke its nose into their operations, but they must comply because we’ve given them tax holidays among others” the District Coordinating Director, Jeremiah A. Amoafo stated.
The Fourth Estate could not meet the Managing Director of Nano Foods Limited, Albert Anti Owusu, who was on duty at the time of our visit.
MaaGrace Company Ltd.
President Akufo-Addo in October 2021, commissioned MaaGrace Company Ltd, a garment manufacturing company, operating under the 1D1F initiative.
The company specializes in producing utility clothing, uniforms for security forces and hospital scrubs.
The company commenced operations in 2003. However, its operations went down. In 2017, the company applied for support under the 1D1F initiative and has since seen its operations resuscitated.
The company imports its raw materials and exports its final products.
During the commissioning, the promoter of the business, Madam Comfort Owusu-Agyemang, told President Akufo-Addo that the company had employed 600 youths from the New Juabeng North Municipality, and so with the 1D1F initiative, it would significantly increase the employment opportunities in the Municipality.
But after one year of operating under the government’s initiative, its staff strength is currently pegged at 320, the Operations Manager, Reuben Katako stated.
Even though he couldn’t explain the nature of the support the company received from the government, he said keeping people employed was their focus.
Upper East Region
The government had indicated that it would revamp three of the defunct factories in the region—Pwalugu Tomato Factory, Zuarungu Meat Factory, and the Bolgatanga Rice Factory—all sited in the Upper East Region as part of the 1D1F policy.
But close to 6 years after the commencement of the policy implementation, the factories, which were established in the era of President Kwame Nkrumah, are still left abandoned and rotting away.
The government has, instead, dotted some structures in four districts in the region meant to serve as new manufacturing companies under the 1D1F policy.
The structures have been erected in the Bolgatanga Municipality, Bawku Municipality, and the Bongo and Builsa South districts.
Some of them were completed in 2020 and have since not been operationalised.
Leather tanning factory building in Bolga
The 1D1F project in the Bolgatanga Municipality is meant to serve as a leather tanning factory. It is located at Yorogo, close to the Bolgatanga Abattoir, which is expected to supply the factory with raw materials. Since its completion in 2020, it has been abandoned. A visit to the facility by this reporter showed that even though the building was still in good shape, part of the roof had ripped off.
Except for some emptied cement bags and a ladder-like bench table with a mat and a blanket on top of it, an indication that the place was occupied, its interior was empty. Not a single machine has been installed.
The Municipal Chief Executive for the area, Rex Asanga, said about 60 youths had been trained to man the operations of the factory. He, however, could not tell when it would be operationalized.
“It is not in operation now because the machines are not there,” he stated.
Mr. Asanga explained that “the ministry is finding it difficult to procure the machines. At first, we thought it was Covid-19. You know, there were a lot of factories that got shut down in Europe. But up to now, they are still trying to see where they can find those machines to procure to come and install,” he said.
He said his outfit had been directed “to try other places like Burkina to see if we can get leather tanning machines there.”
Shea Butter Company in Bongo
At Bogrogo in the Bongo District, the existence of the Bongo Shea Company Limited, constructed under the 1D1F project, is news to residents.
The facility was commissioned around September 2022 and is yet to be equipped with the requisite machinery for its operationalization. When this reporter visited, it was under lock and key. However, its roller shutter door was not completely shut, affording a view into the facility.
A peep through the wire fence revealed piles of guinea corn spread on the floor.
Fumbiisi Rice Processing Factory (food)
Residents of Fumbiisi in the Builsa South District described the rice processing factory situated in the area as “just a structure standing there.”
“As of now, if you enter there, you will realise that there is no single machine. We are still waiting to see whether they will bring the machines and the work will start,” the Assembly Member for Kasiesa Electoral Area, Kanbey K. Christopher, said.
According to Mr. Kanbey, the factory was commissioned in the first quarter of 2022 but it was yet to process a kilo of rice. He said his checks had revealed that it was being used by a private individual to store his rice.
“I learnt that one Mr. Anthony sought permission from the District Assembly and kept his rice there.”
On the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s website, the government claims that it is building 10 factories in the Upper East Region. Six of the factories, according to the website, are under construction, three are yet to be constructed and one is in operation.
The six factories under construction include the four factory buildings, which have been completed and yet to be furnished, and two others labeled as HGW Company and Te-Vonwa Enterprise supposedly sited in the Kassena-Nankana Municipality and Bolgatanga Municipality respectively.
This reporter could not locate any 1D1F project in the Kasena-Nakana Municipality when he visited there. The Municipal Chief Executive, Joseph Adongo, said plans to construct a rice processing factory in the area had been halted due to a dispute over the land on which the project was to be sited.
In the Bolgatanga Municipality, aside from the leather tanning factory building constructed under the Enable Youth Initiative, there is no any other 1D1F project.
Information on the website indicates that the three factories yet-to-be built are scheduled to be sited in Bolgatanga and Bawku Municipalities as well as the Bongo District. Their descriptions are similar to the existing ones in the respective districts.
The New Vision Agro Business Limited, which is said to be in operation, is a privately-owned manufacturing company located at Nakolo in the Kasena-Nakana Municipality. The factory has only been earmarked and the process is ongoing for it to be supported under the 1D1F programme.
This means it cannot be said to be a 1D1F project. But on the website, it is indicated that the company is a 1D1F project built in 2019.
The authors of this report: Philip Teye Agbove, Forgbe Emma Kloh, Abdul-Gafaru Ayamdoo Salifu, Edmund Agyemang Boateng, Thelma Dede Amedeku, Marian Bangura, Norah Aluayo Kwami & Victor Jones were fellows of the NGIJ Fellowship.
The Next Generation Investigative Journalism (NGIJ) Fellowship is an initiative of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA). The first two cohorts have so far benefitted early-career journalists from Ghana, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
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