Importation of Sugar to satisfy the local demand of about five million Quintals a year will end this year as local production of the commodity will hit seven million quintals, according to the Ethiopian Sugar Corporation.
Local sugar production stands below the growing demand which impelled the importation of about two million quintals every year, with the government expending 2.6 billion Birr.
Corporation's Communication Manager Gashaw Aycheluhim confirmed that: "we will have eight functioning sugar factories in 2009 fiscal year, and we are working to meet local demand by raising their aggregate production capacity to seven million quintals."
Wonji Shoa, Metehara, Finca’a, Kesem, Tendaho are already functioning sugar plants with Arjo Didessa sugar factory set to join this month, the communication manager said.
During the first Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP-1) period, the government planned to build 10 new sugar factories across the country.
Lack of implementation capacity, contract management and shortage of finance as well as supply of machineries and spare parts are among the factors that delayed the swift implementation of the projects, Gashaw said.
Lack of infrastructure in the selected project implementation sites is also indicated as an impediment the project implementation. "Once we fulfill the local demand for sugar this fiscal year, we will have an opportunity for export as additional new plants will start production in the coming years," Gashaw added.
Omo Kuraz Phase I and II will soon enter production phase and its phase III has reached 50 percent, with its full completion expected next year.
Tana Beles Phase I and II and Wokayit sugar factory are expected by the end of GTP II.
Gashaw added: "despite the delay in finalizing the projects, efforts are underway to ensure their official function by 2012 E.C." The country's total sugar production will hit 2.8 million tons by the end of GTP-II. Ethiopia's fast economic growth and the expansion of industries that utilize sugar are driving the demand for sugar in the country. According to the official, gaps in project implementation will be augmented by plans to build a Sugar Academy.