The great sugar industry corridor of Ethiopia giving birth to another new sugar factory

The Second World War was the right time for the envies of super powers surface to colonize those nations with ample natural wealth.

They have tasted their powerful weapons in order to put the resourceful nations under their control.

Fighter jets dropped their bombs here and there. Tanks threw their fires everywhere. Roads were filled with corpuses. That was why the Dutch company HVA (a business firm that ran more than 36 companies by then operating in Indonesia) set its eyes on one of the East African countries, Ethiopia as its option.

It was with this in mind that Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed in his inaugural speech of the Omo Kuraz Sugar Factory Three on October 14, 2018 heard saying «Peace was, by then, the basic factor for HVA in choosing to operate in Ethiopia» underlining the necessity of peace for development.

During the 2nd World War Indonesia was one of the countries to which good luck had given them its back. Japanese invaders destroyed the country. The country`s economy collapsed. So many people had been killed in that country.

Just prior to the Second World War Indonesia`s former colonizers, The Dutch`s residing there come to terms with themselves.

Accordingly, they burned their private properties like bikes, and automobiles. They had done these so that their Japanese colonizers could not use them.

The gigantic Amsterdam Company, HVA used to have its headquarters in Indonesia. By then HVA was a business firm that runs more than 36 companies which produce coffee, tea, rubber, olive oil, and cassava among others. The firm had more than 170 thousand employees.

Among the worldwide companies of HVA 15 of them produce sugar and one of these sugar factories was found in Indonesia.

The Dutch understood it was inevitable that Indonesia was more likely to be invaded by Japanese forces. It was known that the Hollanders stayed for a very long time in Indonesia. They dismantled the sugar factory in a very short time and left Indonesia. They loaded machinery of the factory on a ship which headed to East Africa.

They preferred Ethiopia among the countries of the sub region and set up the factory at Wonji.

This factory was the first sugar factory to be set up in Ethiopia. By the time HVA signed a lease agreement to get five thousand hectares of land and work in joint venture with the then Ethiopian government.

A soil test underwent at Awash valley. It proved the soil of the area is among the most fertile and suitable to the sector. The study confirmed it could yield 20 tons of sugar per hectare.

Setting up of the factory at Wonji created favorable opportunities for the flourishing of residential areas, roads, irrigation infrastructures and job opportunities. Diverting the waters of Awash River, works of irrigation canals had also been strengthened.

Located 110 kilometers from the Capital, Wonji was best known for its wild life resource. Among them are plants like acacia and fig; and animals like lion, zebra, heart beast, fox, bushbuck, warthog, rabbit and hyena.

As the area was swampy, it was infested by mosquitoes which cause malaria, and other organisms which cause smallpox, diarrhea and the likes. Employees were much affected by one or many of these pandemics. In due process health centers, schools and recreation centers were set up for them.

Construction of Wonji Sugar Factory was completed and inaugurated by Emperor Haile Selassie on March 20 1954. A sack packed with Ethiopian sugar which displays «Made in Ethiopia» become famous all over the country for the first time.

HVA Netherland had become a symbol for Ethiopia`s Development. It was the largest employer, next to the government, by then. Wonji Candy Factory and the second sugar factory Shoa as well as HVA Metahara Sugar Factory were set up in 1960, 1963 and 1970 respectively.

Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed while he inaugurated Omo Kuraz Sugar Factory Three with the Eritrean President Ato Isaias Afwerki and Former Prime Minister Haile Mariam Dessalegn last October also said «The war in Asia pacific back 65 years from now had become a cradle for Ethiopian sugar industry. Investors who escaped the war there came and invested in Ethiopia introducing us with sugar and sugar industry. The beginning of our sugar industry has glorified the importance of peace for development and gave us ample lessons.»

He also added that the completion of Omo Kuraz Sugar Factory Three demonstrates that not only we think big and start but also we can finalize huge projects.

He further noted that the building of two sugar factories in Omo Kuraz Sugar Development Project including the other two, among which Omo Kuraz Sugar Factory Two has already begun production, will increase sugar production capacity of the country.

He also said there is huge potential of development at the project in reference to land, water and labor resource. According to him demand of sugar increased not only in Ethiopia but also in Africa and elsewhere and that will make us strengthen our capacities and produce sugar, sesame, rice, maize and wheat to fulfill our needs of food. He additionally pointed out the presence of a chance in doing away with imported foods and exporting them instead by huge amount.

In his inauguration speech the Prime Minister congratulated all Ethiopians for the building of hundreds of kilometers irrigation canals, irrigated land and for the inauguration of this huge factory which also has given the nation great lessons on the sector in to the journey coming up.

Eritrean president Isaias Afwerki , who has inaugurated   Omo Kuraz Sugar Factory Three with FDRE Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed and Former PM of FDRE Ato Hailemariam Desalegn, congratulated all Ethiopians for successfully completing such a huge project and added that the inauguration of Omo Kuraz Sugar Factory Three manifests the potentials Ethiopia has for further development. His Country, Eritrea has got great lessons from this, he further said.

Speaking on the occasion Former CEO of Ethiopian Sugar Corporation Ato Endawek Abite began his welcoming remark reiterating the 65 years old history of sugar industry of Ethiopia as the PM did.. “Ethiopia began benefiting from sugar production which is the result of the efforts of its scholars and of the sugarcane from its fertile land when the Dutch HVA Company set up a sugar factory 110 km away from the Metropolitan.

According to him, the sugar industry which begun in such a way in Ethiopia is being harmonized with the recent double digit development of the country`s economy has created greater demand of sugar following the life style changes brought up with the development registered.

Cognizant of this fact the government had set up Sugar Corporation in 2010. The newly set up Corporation planned to grow sugar cane on 300 thousand hectares of land. From the planned ten new sugar factories four of them have been operational in the past few years. These four sugar factories are Kessem, Tendaho, Arjo Diddessa and Omo Kuraz Two sugar factories, according to Ato Endawek.

He noted the country`s sugar demand now is about 600 to 700 thousand metric tons a year and the existing sugar factories are able to produce 50% of the domestic demand. When all sugar factories which are under construction by Sugar Corporation become operational, the annual sugar production will reach 22.5 million quintals of sugar, he has also mentioned.

Speaking on the opening inaugural ceremony of Omo Kuraz Three Sugar Factory General Manager of the Chinese Development Bank Ethiopia branch, Mr. Bu Yuu said China Development Bank, as one of the major financiers of the Sugar Corporation, has supported Kesem, Omo 2 and Omo 3 sugar development projects with total 703 million US dollars.

He also expressed his hope that, accomplishing the plans set, Ethiopian sugar industry will become internationally competent and make the sector one of the major source of the country foreign exchange.

It is known that construction of Kessem Sugar Factory was taken from Metal and Engineering Corporation and given to the Chinese COMPLANT company which successfully completed it. The company repeated its successful performance completing Omo Kuraz Sugar Factory Two. Establishing its trust, the same company COMPLANT taking also the responsibility of constructing Omo Kuraz Sugar Factory Three has carried out its duty bringing its third sugar factory to its completion.

Speaking on the same occasion the Chinese COMPLANT Company Ethiopia branch Deputy General Manager Mr. Hu Jian Liang said completion of this factory is a very important milestone in construction of sugar factory, which become to the new production stage, from its inauguration day on wards.

The successful completion of Omo Kuraz Sugar Factory Three is a cornerstone for further development activities in the area. It can also play great role in introducing sugar professionals of the area with the state-of-the-art technology of the sector.

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