On Wednesday 24 January 2018 in Kribi, Patrice Melom, Managing Director of the Port Authority of Kribi (PAK) signed the memorandum of understanding for the establishment of the first factory specialised in processing and producing cocoa beans in the industrial area of the Port of Kribi. The plant is owned by Atlantic Cocoa Corporation (ACC). The ceremony took place in two phases: the first, on the site where the factory is settled in the area next to the port of Mboro, aimed at assessing the effective progress of the project on the ground. The second phase started early in the evening and dealt with the final signature of the documents of the convention.
A new era for the production of cocoa beans in Cameroon
The investment amounting to FCFA 30 billion, partially funded by BGFI Bank, aims first to refine around 32,000 tons of cocoa beans, which can go up to 60,000 tons in full capacity. The gross production hovers around 140,000 tons and come namely from the South and Centre regions of Cameroon. According to ACC promoters, the “project of establishing a cocoa beans processing unit falls in line with the government’s objective to promote cocoa processing of 50% of the national production, so as to keep a significant part of the added value of strategic agricultural sectors in the country”. As a reminder, Cameroon’s average cocoa production has been around 200,000 tons for five seasons at least and the country barely processes 25% of its production. The aim is to double this capacity by 2020.
Background of an ambitious project
On 14 March 2016, Atlantic Group, an Australian firm specialised in catering and reception organisation, published a call for tender for establishing a plant in the Kribi industrial port area. The call for tender was advertised in Cameroon through the company’s local branch, the agro-processing group Atlantic Cocoa Corporation (ACC). Tender documents were available at the Investment Promotion Agency which first talked about a processing unit with a capacity of 15,000 tons of cocoa.
Yet, it is worth noting that Atlantic Cocoa Corporation was issued a license almost at the same time with other competitors. These are Cameroonian companies, namely Fapam Industry SA, Société Agro Ressources Cameroon SA and Quantum Cocoa SA. Though API does not provide enough detail on the quantity of cocoa to be processed, consistent reports attest to the fact that the main activity will be cocoa grinding. “It goes without saying that with the new fee at FCFA 15 per kg for cocoa beans entering local processing units and the permanent change in tax and customs incentives, cocoa grinding will undeniably undergo transformation with a trickle-down effect on the national sector as whole”, said the trade association of the cocoa sector.
As a reminder, on 29 July 2015, Kone Dossongui, an economic operator of Ivory Coast, revealed his project to set up a cocoa industrial consortium in Cameroon. Received by the then Minister of the Economy, Kone Dossongui made it clear that his agribusiness project was threefold: setting up cocoa farms in the country, building a cocoa processing plant and creating an entity in charge of managing cocoa producers.
In the promoter’s words, the “project of establishing a cocoa beans processing unit falls in line with the government’s objective to promote cocoa processing of 50% of the national production, so as to keep a significant part of the added value of strategic agricultural sectors in the country.”
Cameroon’s average cocoa production has been around 200,000 tons for five seasons at least and the country barely processes 25% of its production. The aim is to double this capacity by 2020.
An impetus going from Ivory Coast to Cameroon
Kone Dossongui is the head of the project. With a share capital of FCFA 10 million, the company is headquartered in Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon.
The boss of Atlantique Group (Atlantic Telecom, Atlantic Financial Group…), already established in Cameroon through Banque Atlantique, is the chair of the Board of Directors of the new company, and Georges Anatole Wilson is the Managing Director. The corporate purpose of Atlantic Cocoa Plantations SA is “to set up, develop and manage agricultural plantations; market agricultural produce and food crops; bring together, train and provide a framework for small and medium-sized farmers.’