Illovo and its Mali sugar project

South Africa’s Illovo Sugar is the strategic partner in a 190,000 tons per annum sugar project to be established in Mali.

The Markala Sugar project will comprise both an agricultural component as well as an industrial component.

The agricultural component, CaneCo, involves establishing a 14,132 ha irrigated cane estate in Markala, 275 km northeast of Bamako, on the north bank of the Niger River to produce 1.48 million tons of sugar cane per annum. It will support an outgrower scheme as well as community development.

The industrial component, SoSuMar, will comprise a sugar mill, ethanol plant and power co-generation facility. The mill will have a cane crushing capacity of 7,680 tons per day at full operating capacity, producing 190,000 tons of sugar per annum (180,000 tons of mill white sugar for direct human consumption and 10,000 tons of refined sugar for industrial use).

The sugar will be traded on the domestic as well as the regional market, especially in Burkina Faso, Niger and Senegal. The ethanol plant will produce 15 million litres of ethanol per annum, while the co-generation facility will produce 30 MW of electricity per annum.

According to a November 2010 appraisal report, the project financing will be provided by the African Development Fund (ADF), the State of Mali and several other donors, including the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID), the West African Development Bank (WADB), the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD), the Kuwait Fund, the OPEC Fund (OFID), the Export-Import Bank of Korea (EXIMBANK) and the project’s strategic partner (Illovo).

In its interim report for the six months ended 30 Septmber 2010, Illovo stated that financial completion for the project is expected by mid-2011, following which agricultural activity will commence. Factory construction will thereafter start at the end of 2012 and will take 24 months to complete.

Illovo currently has operations in South Africa, Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, Swaziland and Mozambique.