By PRINCE CHIBAWAH
A ZAMBIAN firm, Roland Imperial Tobacco Limited Company (RITCO) has invested US$80 million in its expansion programme.
Company chairman, Dr Ephraim Mwenda said RITCO was undergoing a rapid expansion programme which would see the creation of hundreds of jobs for the local people.
“In May 2013, RITCO established a cigarette manufacturing plant with an initial investment value of US$8 million to produce the now popular brands, namely Life and Guards, both full flavour and menthol,
“We recently launched the Life Gold brand which is doing quite well on the market.
Two more brands are to be launched later this year.”
Dr Mwenda said this at Southern Sun Hotel in Lusaka during the signing of the respective investment promotion and protection agreements between Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) and RITCO together with its subsidiary Zambian Cut Rag Prossors Limited (ZCPL).
“Two months ago, the company held a ground breaking ceremony for the construction of a tobacco processing industrial park located in the Lusaka South-Multi facility economic zone (LS-MFEZ).
The expansion programme will see the relocation of the trading division from Lusaka show grounds and cigarette manufacturing factory in Makeni to (LS-MFEZ).”
He explained that the project would comprise of the USD30M cigarette manufacturing plant and the USD50M primary processing plant and Green Leaf threshing plant respectively.
“The primary processing plant will have a capacity to process 4.5 tonnes of tobacco per hour.
This capacity far exceeds current Zambian Cut Rag tobacco requirements with capacity to export as per design,
“This is the plant whose product is known as cut rag, a finely cut tobacco, a raw material for the cigarette manufacturing plant.”
He said the facility would be the first of its kind in Zambia.
“This facility was none existent in Zambia and cigarette manufacturing companies are forced to either import from Zimbabwe, South Africa or Botswana,” said Dr Mwenda.
He also said the establishment of the cigarette manufacturing plant in Zambia had brought enormous benefits to the country.
“These include creation of jobs for tobacco farmers. Currently the industry employs more than 450, 000 people with over 2.3 million dependents, which is nearly 20 percent of Zambia’s population,” he said.
Former first lady Dr Christine Kaseba and former Lusaka archbishop Telesphore Mpundu were among the notables at the event. ZDA board chairperson, Mary Ncube praised RITCO for investing massively in the tobacco industry.
“You are complementing the efforts being made by the government to create jobs for our people and at the same time increase and diversify Zambia’s income sources to enhance sustainability of the economy,” said Ms Ncube.