On February 28, 2017, the President of the African Development Bank visited the Kenana Sugar Company (KSC) in Sudan, which is by far Africa’s largest sugar-producing agro-industrial complex and world’s largest producer of white sugar. The company operates a cane farm of 105,000 acres of land and produces 400,000 metric tons of raw sugar annually, both for domestic consumption and for export. The company employs some 16,000 people, including 4,000 seasonal workers, and generates an annual revenue of US $400 million.
The President toured the agro-industry complex in the company of Sudan’s Federal Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Badr Eldin Mahmoud Abbas; AfDB Executive Director for Sudan, Kwabena Oku-Afari; AfDB Director General (East) Gabriel Negatu; and the Bank’s Sudan Country Manager, Abdul Kamara. He was welcomed by Abdel Sayed Taha, Interim Managing Director of KSC, and Senior Kenana Management.
The President’s tour kicked off with a visit to the company’s Research and Development Centre, and then to the sugar cane fields where he watched an automated combined harvesting operation. He also visited two pump stations, one of which was financed by the Bank. The President then proceeded to the sugar factory, where he witnessed the automated offloading of tons of raw cane from large truck containers in a simultaneous operation that delivered newly harvested cane onto a conveyor belt running into the factory at the transport tower.
After a busy morning, there was time for an inspection of the company’s key products at the Final Products Show, which revealed that KSC has diversified into ethanol production and meat production to extract energy out of the company’s byproducts, including molasses. The President was deeply impressed by this massive, locally managed agro-industrial setup, which he described as a model exemplifying a few of the High 5s: Feed Africa, Industrialize Africa and Light up and power Africa.
Adesina commended both the size and the efficiency of the operation, emphasizing the company’s resilience to have continued operations during these many years of US economic sanctions on Sudan. He was pleased to note that the African Development Bank’s financing of the expansion phase of the KSC in 1990 with a US $42-million Bank investment helped the company to significant scale up its capacity to become the world’s largest producer of white sugar and Africa’s biggest sugar factory, valued at over US $3.5 billion today.
The Kenana company has thus provided an excellent example for the Bank’s declared policies of securing added value through agro-aligned processing of crops within Africa, and accelerating the High 5s for the continent’s transformation.