Article from the Ethiopian Herald
Ethiopia is on track to double the number of its sugar estates to six by November this year, a senior official said and the Horn of African country hopes they will generate 500 million US dollars a year in export revenue.
Addis Ababa aims to become Africa’s biggest sugar producer and exporter with plans to set up a string of large estates throughout the country by 2020. It has identified over 500,000 hectares of land as suitable for large-scale sugar plantations.
Ethiopia’s current sugar-producing capacity at three existing plantations is less than 300,000 tonnes each year, covering up to 70 per cent of local demand, meaning it must import bulks amounting to 2,000 TCD (tonnes of cane each day).
“Around September, October and November, we will inaugurate the sugar processing industries of Tendaho, Kesem and Kuraz,” Industry Minister Ahmed Abtew told Reuters in an interview.
The three projects are taking shape in the country’s Afar, Oromia and SNNP states and will have a capacity to produce more than 25,000 TCD, Ahmed said.
“The sugar industry is vital. We are planning to earn around half a billion dollars from these three projects,” he said.
Under a five-year development blueprint that concludes this year, Ethiopia intends to launch at least 11 large-scale sugar plantations and produce more than two million tonnes each year. Half of the amount was slated for exports.
But that plan has run into delays. Seven of the projects are in the early stages of planning and construction, with completion slated for the next five-year development plan that ends in 2020, officials say.
Ethiopia also plans to produce up to 44,000 metric cube of ethanol that would be used as blends with gasoline. “Sugar production is a key part of our growth and industrialisation plans. We will continue to expand the sector,” Ahmed said.
Luring new industry and expanding its manufacturing base is seen as vital to maintaining Ethiopia’s high growth rates, even though its economy is still largely agrarian.
With the economy growing at an average annual rate of 10 per cent over the past decade, Ethiopia has increasingly become an attractive investment destination. The country is setting up industry parks in a bid to shift away from farming and become a hub for textiles and other industries.