Despite the growing threat of COVID-19 to virtually all aspects of business and the economy, the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has given the strongest assurance that its annual cocoa syndication loan facility will go ahead without any hitches.
Joseph Boahen Aidoo, CEO of COCOBOD, assured farmers and other industry stakeholders that the process to secure funds from international lenders for financing cocoa production and purchases for the next season has begun and will be completed.
“Although the pandemic had made it impossible for the board to hold physical meetings with its lenders and advisors on the loan syndication exercise, it was doing so through video and telephone conferences,” the CEO told B&FT over the phone.
COCOBOD annually raises at least US$1billion for the purchase of cocoa, with 2019 seeing some US$1.3billion raised to that effect. But due to the growing COVID-19 pandemic, some analysts believe it will be difficult for COCOBOD to raise the required amount in the next season.
But the CEO is very optimistic about the institution’s capabilities and capacity to attract lenders irrespective of a pandemic. He therefore urged farmers to rest assured that all is going well in the cocoa sector. “The board is working around the clock to make sure this year’s transaction is closed and signed in September to enable it access the funds for its activities,” he added.
Giving an update on the process, the CEO said the board has already opened discussions with the relevant institutions toward getting them to participate in the syndication exercise. He said the board is currently in the process of selecting financial institutions that will act as lead arrangers for the syndication of funds from other institutions.
This, he said, should give way to a roadshow in August before the final signing-off of the transaction in September, as is done every year. Although Mr. Aidoo did not state the exact amount that the board will be borrowing this year, he said indications are that this year’s loan will be more than what was syndicated last year.