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Rwanda to address sugar production shortfall with new factory

A Mauritius investor has received the nod from the government of Rwanda to construct a sugar processing factory with a capacity to produce 100,000 tonnes of sugar yearly.

The government is counting on the factory to help the country be self- reliant in sugar production by 2020.

Currently sugar production in the country stands at 10,000 tonnes per year, even as projections from the Ministry of Trade and Industry show that demand will rise to 160,000 tonnes by 2020.

According to the Ministry, on average, Rwanda imports 80,000 tonnes of sugar per year against an annual demand of 90,000 tonnes annually.

The new plant is part of a major multi-purpose project that is expected to cost between $250 million and $300 million, according to the minister’s estimates.

“We realised that if nothing is done by 2020, Rwanda will need about $150 million per year to offset sugar imports,” said François Kanimba the Minister of Trade and Industry.

Kanima said such a scenario informed the Government decision to look for alternative means to establish another sugar factory, but also increase the production capacity of the existing Kabuye Sugar Works to be able to meet sugar demand in the country.

The new factory, which will be set up in Eastern Province, is part of a bigger project that will have a factory making ethanol, an alcoholic based clean and renewable fuel produced through fermenting sugarcane juice and molasses, the minister said.

Molasses is a by-product of sugarcane and is used in production of crude gin.

The same project will in the long run see the establishment of a third plant that will be generating 25 megawatts of energy from bagasse, a sugarcane residue.

Although the minister noted that the exact investment for the three projects is still being refined, he said the entire project is estimated to cost between $200 million and $300 million.

He said the sugarcane plantations to supply the new factory will be in Ndego and Kabare sectors of Kayonza District and Nasho Sector in Kirehe District in Eastern Province.

The minister said the setting up of the factory is in line with efforts to reduce the trade deficit by looking for items that can be produced locally in a bid to bridge trade deficit.

According to estimates by the minister, the country will need at least $150 million annually to import sugar by 2020.

To fill the void left by Kabuye Sugar Works, the country currently imports sugar from the region, Sudan and other distant countries like Brazil and India.

Kayonga said having a strong sugar industry in the country could benefit other food processing industries through linkages and the products along the value addition made thanks to that sugar, can be expected in the region and elsewhere.


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