A report by the Auditor-General (AG) of the Ghana Audit Service, Johnson Akuamoah Asiedu, on the Public Accounts of Ghana’s Public Boards, Corporations and other Statutory Institutions found that Ghana’s cocoa agency, COCOBOD, had accumulated debts of about GHc12.3 billion ( circa US$1.23 billion) as at September 2020.

The total debt is made up of a number of Cocoa loans:

  • Short-term loans of approx GHc8.49 billion (circa US$851.13m)
  • Bank of Ghana (BoG) 10-year loan of approx GHc1.4 billion (circa US$140.4m)
  • Medium-term loan of GHc1.28 billion(circa US$128.3m)
  • An AfDB loan of GHc1.14 billion (circa US$114.3m)
  • Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA) Loan Account of GHc174,295 (circa US$17,473)

Of particular concern to the AG was COCOBOD’s lack of plans to relieve the debt moving forward. In a way that is comparable to companies that borrowed substantial sums during an era of easy-to-raise cash at record low interest rates, COCOBOD has saddled itself with repayment obligations that it now has to service. The short and medium-term debt (remembering this audit covers a period ending two years prior to today) is of particular concern as we enter into a global recession and potentially weaker demand.

Our examination of the COCOBOD records noted that the Board has been burdened with relatively high loan portfolios over the years. The Board had debts totalling GHc12.3 billion in its records as at the end of the 2019/2020 financial year. We also noted from our review that the Board did not provide us with any effective plans to reduce its debt burden in the future.

Johnson Akuamoah Asiedu, Auditor-General

As the debt burden has increased over the years, so has the finance cost; from GHc1.25 billion (circa US$125.3m) in the 2018/2019 financial year to GHc1.57 billion (circa US$157.4m) in the 2019/2020 financial year. According to the AG, this could have dire consequences if left unchecked.

This, if not managed effectively, could lead to crippling the cocoa industry. The absence of sustainable debt plans coupled with the absence of effective long-term cost control measures resulted in this state of affairs. We urge management to deploy and implement effective plans and strategies which lead to a reduction of the Board’s debt burden within the medium to long term.

Johnson Akuamoah Asiedu, Auditor-General

In response to the report, COCOBOD insisted it has put tighter budget restrictions into place to reduce the accumulation of debt and gathered savings to begin repaying its debts.

One method that COCOBOD is said to be implementing includes issuing a US$3 billion bond to refinance the earlier debt notes at higher rates, in a similar way to remortgaging your house when offered a better deal.

In the case of the 10-year loan from the Bank of Ghana, COCOBOD pointed out that a balance of around GHc1.39 billion (circa US$139.4m) was on a repayment schedule agreed upon with the bank. The loan is expected to be paid back in full by November 2023. According to COCOBOD, the GHc1.2 billion(circa US$120.3m) medium-term loan has already been settled.

As a result of the prudent financial management being implemented, the MTL has been fully repaid 1 year ahead of schedule.


Finally, the cocoa board notes that the BADEA loan could be written off following an agreement with the Ministry of Finance and is subject to approval by the Parliament, although debt write-offs hardly instil confidence for potential future lenders.

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