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Business News of Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Source: B&FT

Mauritius firm commits US$250m to sugar deal

A Mauritian energy and manufacturing firm, Omnicane, is set to invest about US$250million in various sugar plantation projects in Savelugu in the Northern Region, following the conclusion of a test that proved the project’s commercial and production viability.

The five-year project, which is planned to produce more than 100,000 tonnes of refined sugar annually, is expected to yield job prospects for residents in one of the most poverty-endemic areas in the country.

The Northern Regional Minister, Alhaji Mohammed Limuna Muniru, told the B&FT that a number of training programmes have been put in place to enhance the people’s skill-sets ahead of the project’s start.

“Efforts are being made to train more of the youths who will be engaged to discharge their duties well, ensuring that the raw materials produced from the region meet international standards to attract more investors that will contribute their quota to enhancement of the region,” he said.

Sugarcane remains Mauritius’ leading sector in terms of exports, employment and share of gross domestic product. Sugarcane is grown on about 90 percent of the cultivated land area of that country, and accounts for 15 percent of export earnings.

Alhaji Muniru observed that Omnicare’s participation in the sugar plantation business will help Ghana develop its sugarcane industry.

He said the involvement is in line with attempts to strengthen bilateral relations between Mauritius and Ghana, and proves the potential of South-South cooperation in promoting intra-Africa trade.

Currently, intra-African trade accounts for only 10 percent of total African trade volumes, compared to rates of 40 percent for intra-North American trade and about 60 percent among Western European countries.

Though efforts have been made over the years to integrate African economies, a number of people are becoming frustrated at the slow pace of the integration process -- and this has affected intra-Africa trade positions.

The Vice Prime Minister of Mauritius, Charles Xavier-Luc Duval who was in the country earlier this year, talked of the need for joint-venture deals at both the government and business levels to help the two countries enhance prospects for their economies and create jobs.

Alhaji Muniru said the Omnicare sugar plantation project should be a catalyst to drive significant investments to a region that remains largely underdeveloped and unexploited.