Reuters Kampala

Uganda’s privately owned Alam Group was investing $52 million (R468m) on a sugar factory and cane estate which it expected to be operational in April with a 60 000 ton a year capacity, a senior company executive said yesterday.

The move comes after Ugandan sugar production fell short of the industry’s forecast by 11 percent last year, hurt by the harvesting of immature cane and poor weather which forced one major producer to briefly halt operations.

Industry body, the Uganda Sugar Cane Technologists Association, said the country produced 289 665 tons of raw sugar compared with a forecast of 327 075 tons in 2012, but was higher than the previous year’s 259 413 tons.

“Work on the (sugar) processing plant is already going on and we think in April or thereabouts we’ll be commissioning it,” said Abid Alam, the company’s managing director.

The group, which also manufactures construction materials, will get its cane from a nucleus estate about 140km east of the capital, in addition to cane from other growers.

East Africa’s third-largest economy and a prospective crude oil producer, Uganda has been drawing increased flows of foreign and domestic private sector investment, scrambling to exploit the country’s fast-growing ranks of middle-class consumers.

Alam said the plant, when operating at full capacity, would be producing 60 000 tons of sugar annually. The group is financing 60 percent of the investment from its own resources and would secure the rest through debt.

Alam said it also planned to generate 12 megawatts of electricity from processing the sugar. – Reuters