Mauritius is eyeing a piece of Kenya’s struggling sugar industry and hopes to turn it around

Mauritius is eyeing a piece of Kenya’s struggling sugar industry and hopes to turn it around
  • Mauritius-based firms have so far injected Sh3.2 billion as direct investment in local firms.
  • Kenya currently has 12 sugar millers with West Kenya, Transmara, Kibos, Butali, and Sukari Sugar companies leading in production.
  • Kenya's total sugar production in the review period was 450,335 tones against a total demand of over 800,000 tonnes resulting in massive undersupply.

Mauritius now wants a piece of Kenya’s struggling bitter-sweet sugar industry.

The country currently has 12 sugar millers with West Kenya, Transmara, Kibos, Butali, and Sukari Sugar companies leading in production, according to data from Agriculture and Food Authority. The five millers produced between 57,000-98,000 tonnes of sugar each between January to November 2018.

Total sugar production in the review period was 450,335 tones against a total demand of over 800,000 tonnes resulting in massive undersupply.

Mauritius is now moving to injects its expertise in sugar production and seal the shortage gap.

Mauritius Commercial Bank CEO Alain Law Min yesterday told the media Mauritius-based firms have so far injected Sh3.2 billion as direct investment in local firms.

“A number of local corporates are having discussions to set up formal activities in Kenya. There is a lot of interest in the sugar industry,” Law Min said.

Mr. Law Min said the interest in Kenya’s sugar sector by Mauritian investors was a result of abundance of expertise and an oversupply of the commodity in the island country.

According to the Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute, the country presently cultivates 72,000 hectares, representing 85 per cent of the arable land in Mauritius.

On average, 600, 000 tonnes of sugar are produced annually in Mauritius with domestic consumption of sugar in the country being about 40, 000 tonnes per year with 530,000 tonnes exported to the European Union and the UK.

The share of sugar production in the Mauritian economy has consequently dropped over the years to about 3.5 per cent of the gross domestic product in 2003 from 25 percent in the 1970.

Sugar production nevertheless remains an important contributor to the country’s economy with sugar exports still representing about 19 per cent of foreign exchange earnings.

While he declined to name the new investors, he confirmed that currently, at least 17 Mauritius-based firms have set up shop in the country.

These include Omnicane and Atleo Group that have bought a stake in Transmara Sugar Company Limited and Kwale International Sugar Company Limited.

Atleo, which is listed at the Stock Exchange of Mauritius acquired a 51 per cent stake in Transmara in 2015 while Omnicane owns a 25 per cent Stake in Kwale Sugar.

Apart from the sugar industry, Law Min said Mauritian investors were also eyeing the hospitality, oil and gas as well as furniture industries.

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