Maputo — Mozambican Prime Minister, Carlos Agostinho do Rosário on Monday laid the first stone for the construction of a new sugar refinery in the Xinavane sugar mill, about 120 kilometres north of Maputo.
The new refinery, which is expected to start production by the end of October 2018, will help to save over 60 million US dollars annually on imports of refined white sugar. The country currently imports about 40 thousand tonnes per year.
The new plant, budgeted at 41 million US dollars, is an investment being undertaken by the South African company Tongaat Hulett's, and will have an installed capacity to produce 90 thousand tonnes of refined sugar per annum, and meet the needs of the growing domestic market over the next seven to 10 years.
Also, the quality of refined sugar to be produced in Xinavane is expected to meet the requirements for both domestic consumption and export and will receive FSSC 22000 food safety certification.
Mozambique spends millions of US dollars a year on imports of refined sugar, which is one of the most important ingredients for both beverage and food industries, including soft drinks, dairy products, beers, candies and confectionery.
Speaking during the ceremony, Prime-minister said that the new plant is an expression of investors' confidence in the country.
He pointed out that sugar produced in Mozambique is exported to some of the neighbouring countries where it is processed, refined and sold in the local markets and eventually it may find its way back to Mozambique.
"The money we used to waste by sending raw sugar abroad and buying back white refined sugar will now stay in Mozambique," said the Prime minister, stressing that the savings will be used for the purchase of a number of vital imported products such as fuels, medicines and among others.
In fact, said the Do Rosario, the new refinery is in line with the government's targets embodied its Five-Year Plan 2015/19, which calls for value adding in the various segments of the economy. This will allow the transformation of Mozambique's natural resources into wealth.
For his part the Minister of Industry and Commerce, Max Tonela, said that sugar industry plays a very important role for Mozambique's socio-economic development due its potential for job creation and exports.
Last year the sugar sector employed over 31,000 people, and is ranked as the second largest employer after the civil service, and more than half of domestic production is exported to the European markets.
The new refinery will also generate about three thousand new jobs in the sugar plantations and another 60 permanent jobs in the plant.
Xinavane Sugar Mill has an estimated installed capacity of 250 thousand tonnes of brown sugar, but due to the severe drought that devastated the country, production volume dropped to 148 thousand tonnes last year, that will be offset in the current year by the increase this year to 170 thousand tonnes, of which 65 per cent for export and the balance for domestic market.
Sugar cane plantation in Xinavane covers an area of nine thousand hectares, a number which is expected to increase due to the increase of the sugar mill capacity.
The total installed capacity in Mozambique is estimated at 500 thousand tonnes unrefined brown sugar.