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Ethiopia Builds 10 New Sugar Plants

Tigrai Online
Sept. 13 2011

Sugar Corp., Ethiopia’s state-owned producer, said it started building 10 new factories and is inviting private investment as part of a plan to become one of the world’s 10 biggest exporters of the crop.

The project, which has raised concern among environmental activists, involves constructing plants and establishing farms at a cost of about 80 billion birr ($4.6 billion) in four regions in the Horn of Africa country, Abay Tsehaye, director general of the Addis Ababa-based company, said in an interview on Sept. 7. The government is undertaking the work because Ethiopian private firms are “not financially and technically ready to do such huge enterprises.”

“The government has given focus to sugar development. In the coming 15 years, we hope to be one of the top 10 exporters,” Abay said. “The reason we have this target is Ethiopia has big potential in terms of climate and in terms of soil and water resources, which is very favorable for sugar production.”

Foreign investment is being sought to develop other projects on 5 million hectares of land that has been identified for sugar production, Abay said.

Sugar Corp. was established under Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s office in November to oversee construction and run the state-owned projects, Abay said. The company is accountable to Meles so that he can give “direct, immediate decisions,” he said. The projects are in Beles in the central Amhara region; Wolkait in the northern Tigray area; Kesem in the northeastern Afar regional state; and in the South Omo Zone of the Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples’ region, Sugar Corp. spokesman Yilma Tibebu said in e-mailed and texted responses to questions on Sept. 8

Source Bloomberg