Barely three days into the administration of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo, the people’s Republic of Mauritius has announced to support the new administration in the area of sugar production by setting up sugar factories in districts which will be identified by the two governments as viable.
The Mauritian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Hon. Seetanah Lutchmeenaraidoo, said his country wants to support Ghana to become the leading producer and exporter of sugar in the West African sub region, while using a byproduct of sugarcane to produce electricity to support the national grid.
“We, as a country, are hoping to invest heavily in Ghana in the area of sugar production for export to the rest of the world by siting factories in parts of Ghana,” Hon. Lutchmeenaraidoo said. “Let me say that, so long as there is availability of water or dams to support the production of the raw material [sugarcane], then we are in business” he said in an interview with a business online portal, thebftonline.com in Accra.
Mauritius, he said, has been at the forefront of sugarcane production, and has generated quite a significant amount of energy from its byproduct.
“Our project or support is targeted in helping to create employment as well,” Hon. Lutchmeen Araidoo, who was in the country to attend the inauguration of President Akufo-Addo said.
He expressed optimism that effective cooperation between the two countries in the agricultural sector, especially in building the sugarcane industry, will boost Ghana’s foreign direct investment drive and create employment for the teaming unemployed youth.
He also added that the factories that will be set up, in the long term, will not run on the national grid but depend on the bagasse, the dry pulpy residue left after the extraction of juice from sugar cane, for electricity.
Data available to the thebftonline.com shows that the sugarcane industry has always occupied a prominent position in the Mauritian economy for almost three centuries.
Currently, Mauritius is seen as the world pioneer in establishing sales of bagasse-based energy to the public grid using product from sugarcane and is currently viewed as a model for other sugarcane producing countries, especially the developing ones.
Sugar factories in Mauritius produce about 600,000 tons of sugar from around 5.8 million tons of sugarcane which is cultivated on an agricultural area of about 72,000 hectares.
Of the total sugarcane production, around 35 percent is contributed by nearly 30,000 small growers.
There are more than 11 sugar factories presently operating in Mauritius having crushing capacities ranging from 75 to 310 tons cane per hour.
During the sugar extraction process, about 1.8 million tons of bagasse is produced as a by-product, or about one third of the sugarcane weight.
Traditionally, 50 percent of the dry matter is harvested as cane stalk to recover the sugar with the fibrous fraction, i.e. bagasse, being burned to power the process.
Most factories in Mauritius have been upgraded and now export electricity to the grid during crop season, with some using coal to extend production during the intercrop season.
Surplus electricity is generated in almost all the sugar mills. The total installed capacity within the sugar industry is 243 MW out of which 140 MW is from firm power producers.
The Mauritius Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, also hinted of investing heavily in Ghana’s ailing Poultry sector.
Hon. Lutchmeenaraidoo attended the inauguration of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo for and on behalf of the Prime Minister and the people of Mauritius, and he praised Ghana for the depth and width of its democracy.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo, according to Hon. Lutchmeenaraidoo, has been invited by the cabinet of Mauritius as the chief guest of honor during Mauritius’ Independence Day celebrations on the 12 day of March 2017. – B&FT