Those who actively follow us will already know what our biggest goal for 2020 is: the completion of our new, solar-powered chocolate factory in the rural region of Suhum in Ghana. The construction of the factory, which is expected to be completed in autumn this year, is running quite smoothly despite the current situation. Here we keep you informed about the steps until the completion of the factory:
Week 32: We have got a milestone in sight
The side cladding progresses very fast and will be done shortly. More great news? Most brick work is plastered now and the roof is almost finished, just the joints are still being worked on. All machinery is on site and they are about to have a roof above them in a couple of days. It is an unbelievable feeling to have reached this milestone!
Week 31: The concrete slab is on point
The week starts off with mixed feelings. The government announced re-opening of the borders for international air traffic will still take some time. We are working extra shifts to find a solution for this situation. The work on the construction site is progressing really well. The work on the concrete slab is completely finished and the second part of the roof is being installed. The factory is set to be fully roofed within a week!
Week 30: Machinery and building materials? Check!
Good news, the last concrete slab will be poured this weekend. The masonry work is 90% completed, so again, completion can be checked off soon. Yay! Buhler has now delivered all the machines and they have also arrived on site. We are now waiting for the last delivery of the remaining building materials, which arrived in Ghana a few days ago. Light at the end of the tunnel!
Week 29: brick by brick – a factory will rise soon!
The working progress is developing well, furthermore the brick work is near to completion.. The compaction of the ground at the reception, the changing rooms and the chocolaterie are finished. There are still problems regarding the compaction of the clay soil. We are working at full speed to develop a solution. In fact, the work is going so well at the moment, we urgently need new materials so we can continue without any delays. Keep your fingers crossed that things will proceed in the same way!
Week 28: We (almost) have a roof above our heads!
The week is starting off with great news, since the non-isolated part of the roof will be finished by the weekend! The isolated part will follow as soon as the required materials are on site. The security towers are almost finished, even the toilets were installed this week. Preparations for the installation of the fresh water tank next week are coming next. We had minor problems with the compaction of the soil, which is necessary to offset the high amount of clay in the soil. The solution: Additional netting fibres are used in the concrete slab to prevent future cracking. So the week went without any incidents worth mentioning. On we go!
Week 27: Brighten up!
In a few months, the first chocolate bars will be produced in the new, solar-powered factory, so preparations are still in full swing. The compaction of the plant has been completed thus the concrete slab can be poured shortly. Since we are not waiting idly for this, the surrounding walls have already been installed in the meantime. We have also been connected to the electricity grid this week, which will further advance the work.
Week 26: Happy people – good working environment
The atmosphere on construction site is very positive, because the steel frames are almost completely installed. Slowly but steadily it becomes evident which dimension our new, solar-powered factory will have. Although there have been some delays in compacting the platform for the concrete slab, we can begin with pouring the slab next week.
Week 25: tests, more tests and some good news
The week began with the confirmation that both Buhler and LoeschPack tests on the machines were positive. Thus they can be shipped to our factory shortly. Finally! All suppliers are on schedule and many containers will be welcomed to our site in the coming weeks. Unfortunately, some essential parts were not shipped and now this work has to get done by local builders. The Buhler machines are expected on site by the end of August, so production can start on time in fall! Great news!
Week 24: Life cannot be planned 100% – neither can a factory
As a result of heavy rainfall and the still very present restrictions due to Covid-19, there are unfortunately delays of several weeks. The first chocolate bars are therefore expected to roll off the belt in mid-September. On the construction site, things are still progressing well, since the first girders have just been installed. Meanwhile, Buhler is packing our containers in Germany and Switzerland and preparing them for transport to Ghana. The planned start of the journey: Next week.
Week 23: The foundation was (almost) laid
The week was again marked by heavy rainfall. But this could not really slow down the work on site. Consequently, a clear picture is slowly emerging on the construction site, as the foundation is nearing completion! Incredible news. The first containers with steel girders have also arrived at the construction site. Within the next two weeks, Buhler and LoeschPack will send us the machines for our factory. So the week went very satisfactorily and you can slowly see the big picture.
Week 22: Further work on the foundation – and once again Mother Nature
During this week, further work was done to eliminate the clay problem. Our 70 employees are constantly on site and in the process of integrating the gravel layer and completing the drainage canal. Our steel frames arrived at the port on time and as expected. Unfortunately there were again unavoidable delays this week: heavy rainfall slowed down the work considerably and made it more difficult. But even the rainfall has something positive: our drainage system is working.
Week 20/21: Waiting for the opening of the border – and again and again this clay
The Buhler machines will arrive within the planned time frame. However, there is currently the problem that the airlines do not yet allow any international flights into Ghana. Yet an external team is urgently needed to install the machines. We are working hard to find solutions and prepare everything necessary. The good news is that we have already assembled the team so that we can start as soon as we get the go-ahead.
Away from the problem of entry, an old problem reappears: The clay content of the soil is worse than feared. To protect the building in the long term, it was decided to mix 25cm of gravel under the building platform. This will also impact the planning of other areas, which will increase the costs. Our steel frames will arrive next week and will be brought to the construction site as soon as the construction of the foundation is completed. There is great news regarding the construction of our security tower: Excavations have started and should be completed on time.
There were also other training sessions on hygiene and handling of the corona rules. The topic should and must not be neglected despite the daily routine. The safety of our employees is paramount!
Week 19: Construction can finally begin – or can it?
After the foundations have been laid, as mentioned above, we can finally start with the construction. The partner company “Group Five”, which is mainly responsible for the construction, is now on site and should start work. However, before we can start, Mother Nature seems to try playing a trick on us. According to our partner, the ground on which our factory is to be built may contain too much clay. We will have to carry out further tests. Worst case? We have to expect a significant delay. But we are starting with a lot of energy and we will not be thrown off track. Nevertheless, there is also some news beyond the factory floor: One of our suppliers, Buhler Germany, has informed us that the molding line for our factory may be delayed. So the week did not go perfectly. Nevertheless, we remain positive. As the saying goes: Rome was not built in a day either!
The next week starts with the ever prevalent topic of the clay content in our soil. To our relief, we have found out through soil samples that the problem is not a real problem after all. The work on the foundation is already in full swing. The plastering of the inner side of the wall, which will be around our site, is now completed. Great work, considering the length of the fence! The work on the outside is now starting. The small delay from the previous week will be made up by our motivated colleagues on site. Great news from Buhler Germany is also reaching us: The delays announced in the previous week can be averted after all. The completion of the drainage system is scheduled for the near future. This is important to protect the building from the potential storm-related damage.
Week 18: Electricity and running water are also the basics when building a factory
Before the foundation of the chocolate factory can even be built, the huge construction site must be supplied with both electricity and running water. This was guaranteed at the beginning of May, which means we can finally move from the planning phase to the implementation phase.
Week 17: Finally! fairafric is a free trade zone company
After weeks of to and fro, thanks to the generous help of the office of Ghanaian President Akufo-Addo, we were able to bag our last outstanding permit: The Free Zone Company Registration. Now the bureaucratic preparations have finally been completed, allowing us to concentrate fully on building our factory. A relieving feeling.
Week 15-16: It finally starts! The construction site becomes our workplace
After weeks of talks and tough negotiations we can finally get started! We start with the ground work and land surveying in Suhum. All people involved are full of energy to build a state-of-the-art, solar-powered chocolate factory. We take another look at what this means for the people and the region. A great feeling.
Week 14: The effects of COVID-19 are also visible in Ghana
Almost all countries worldwide have imposed a curfew in the wake of the novel corona virus. The government in Ghana is also imposing such conditions, suspending flights and closing the borders. We must hope for a rapid improvement in the situation. The safety of our employees on site is of course our first priority.
Week 11-13: Negotiations with local developers in the final phase, we will start soon
It was clear to us from the beginning and also a criterion to work with local construction companies. After several rounds of negotiations, we found suitable partners, a joint team consisting of South African and Ghanaian construction companies. Now the ground work can start quite quickly. So we see the light at the end of the tunnel and we are optimistic to be able to present great news with the next update!
Week 8-10: approval after approval – we’re making progress
Our preliminary environmental report has been completed and submitted to the appropriate department. Hopefully we will be able to put the matter behind us after the review. During a personal visit to the Regional Director of the responsible planning office, we made it clear once again how urgently we need the approval of the Ministry for Environment and Science. After we have clarified the financial and accounting aspects, everything will be put in place. We also had to clarify a few things with the tax office. So we are still working our way through a mountain of bureaucratic regulations. The anticipation to finally start the construction increases daily.
Week 4-7: We are allowed to build! Ooh, more bureaucracy!
We have received permission to build a factory for business purposes at our planned location. This is an important milestone on our way to the first solar-powered chocolate factory in Suhum. Of course, we also have to consider the environment, which is why it is being clarified exactly in which area our factory may be built and how. Permits from the Ministry of the Environment and Science are also required for this. We are confident that we will receive these soon. We still need a preliminary environmental report, which is why we are currently looking for an independent auditor to draft it for us. Confidence is spreading that the bureaucratic steps will soon be completed.
Week 1-3: We are building! Oh, first of all, bureaucracy
Before we can get started, we first have to register the planned construction and obtain various permits. In addition to food permits, a permit from the Ghanaian fire brigade must also be obtained. Furthermore, it has to be clarified whether our planned location may be used for industrial purposes at all. For this purpose, an appointment has been scheduled at the next town meeting in Suhum.