Zambia’s sugar project promises sweet success

THE PROPOSED LUENA Sugar Project, which is estimated to cost US$150mn and be implemented in Zambia's Kawambwa and Mwense districts (Luapula Province), is expected to provide work for 1,500 permanent employees and 2,500 seasonal agricultural workers.

The Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) is currently looking for investors to develop the project located at an area that has been recommended and confirmed by many studies as the most suitable site for a new estate to expand sugar production in the country. Luena's potential sugar market is estimated at 150,000 tonnes by 2010, 230,000 by 2015 and 285 000 by 2020.

Due to the remoteness of the site, considerable infrastructure investment would be needed in addition to the infrastructure and equipment needed for the estate and factory themselves. The four major categories are roads, electricity, telecommunications and public service facilities. A successful sugar estate in Luena could include the following benefits: - contribution to the country's foreign exchange earnings through increased exports - sustainable livelihoods for all employees on the estate and at the factory - stimulation of new businesses and jobs for transporting, distributing, marketing, etc. of final products, and supporting industries.

The local sugar industry has been successfully privatised, led by Zambia Sugar Plc. Other growers are Kalungwishi Sugar Estates in Kasama, Northern Province and Consolidated Farming Ltd on the outskirts of Lusaka. The industry is poised to grow remarkably by utilising opportunities such as diversification into the production of ethanol and other downstream products from cane for use mainly by the chemical and pharmaceutical industries.

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