Ethiopian Sugar Corporation (ESC), the state agency in charge of regulating the industry says, Ethiopia will meet its local sugar demand from domestic production after a year, making sugar import history.
Ethiopia will fully satisfy the local sugar market from domestic production by the end of the next fiscal year, which will start July 8. This is indicated by Gashaw Aychiluhim, Corporate Communication of the Corporation.
“Various works are in the pipeline to grow the annual sugar production to over five million quintals by the end of the fiscal years in effect,” he told the state daily paper, The Ethiopian Herald.
Ethiopia’s annual national sugar demand is estimated around seven million quintals. Eeight factories produce sugar currently including, Wonji-Shewa, Matahara, Fincha, Kessem, Tehdaho, Arjo, Omo Kuraz II and Omo Kuraz III.
In addition, five factories which are Omo Kuraz I, Omo Kuraz V, TanaBeles I and Tana Beles II and Wolkaite are at their construction phase.
Ethiopia has been investing hugely often lending from abroad such as, Indian Exim Bank, on the development of sugar industry over the past several years. The government was targeting to export sugar after meeting local demand and generate the highly needed hard currency.
Meanwhile so far it didn’t even be able to meet the local demand let alone to export. In 2016 ESC has imported 140, 000 metric tonnes of sugar at a cost of $71 million from India.
One of the companies that messed with ongoing sugar development projects was the military company Metal Engineering Corporation (METEC). The company has received hundreds of millions of dollars from the government to construct several sugar factories but failed to deliver a single one.
METEC’s failure of completing sugar factories on the scheduled time make the Sugar Corporation loss a sum of 9.4 billion birr (about $334 million). Now most of the projects are given to another companies while the corrupted heads of METEC are sent to prison.
Ethiopia has 1.4 million hectare of land favorable to sugar production, according to ESC. Mr. Gashaw says the country can produce 1,620 quintals of sugarcane per hectare within 15 months.
Annual sugar demand per individuals estimated at 10 kilograms, and current supply per individual stands at 7 kg while the country imports up to three million quintals a year, it was learnt.