ZAMBIA – Zambia Sugar Plc has signed a syndicated financing agreement of US$60 million with four local commercial banks to increase its annual sugar production capacity to 92,000 from 45,000 metric tonnes.

The agreement is between Barclays Bank and Stanbic Bank, who are the leading arrangers of the loan, and have incorporated Citibank and Zanaco Bank.

Zambia Sugar Plc will also inject resources in the US$ 82 million project in Mazabuka.

Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Margaret Mwanakatwe said the investment will enable Zambia Sugar Plc install new equipment to enable it operate effectively, and match the current and future market demand.

Mrs Mwanakatwe said the product alignment and refinery project will enhance out growers schemes’ performance, create jobs, and construction contracts for the locals.

“Government will provide the necessary support to ensure the realisation of the expansion of the project. The financing puts on record the credibility of Zambia Sugar as a business… Investing in the future assures business sustainability, long term employment opportunities, contribution to national treasurer, and indeed improved and healthy lifestyles for the citizens.

“The financing will go a long way in meeting the total capital required for the project. I further wish to urge other commercial banks operating in Zambia to increase and extend their lending activities to small and medium businesses that provide support to large industries such as Zambia Sugar,” she said this in a speech read for her by Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry permanent secretary Siazongo Siakalenge last week.

Earlier, Bank of Zambia deputy governor Bwalya Ngándu said the expansion programme will bring added value to the country’s reserves.

“Among the benefits that will flow from this project will be higher exports needed to produce the foreign exchange that will help the country build reserves to assist us absorb externally induced shocks,” Dr Ngándu said.

Similarly, Illovo Group financial director Mohammed Abdool-Samad said the expansion project involves the planting of more than 10,000 hectares of cane, notably over 6,600 hectares from out growers.

July 1, 2015;