A delegation from Egyptian-based Eastern Tobacco Company (ETC) are assessing and conducting talks with various government and private sector officials on their plans to establish a tobacco processing and cigarette manufacturing company in Malawi.
The officials have already met representatives from ministries of Agriculture, Lands, Industry and Trade, Malawi Investment Trade Centre (Mitc), Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) and tobacco companies, among others.
Speaking after meeting Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development officials led by Minister Allan Chiyembekeza, the company’s leader of delegation, Hamdy El Sayed, said they are keen on establishing the manufacturing company.
“Our company is the biggest production company in Egypt. Malawi is our second home and we have a very a long history with Malawi. We are already buying tobacco from Malawi and we realise how important the tobacco sector is for Malawi.
“We are very happy to offer our help for Malawi to achieve its aspirations in the export area,” he said.
Sayed said that there is no definitive timeline to start production, since a feasibility study and other conditions will determine the process.
On his part, Chiyembekeza said the delegation’s visit to Malawi was a follow up on the trip he undertook alongside officials from Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) last month.
He said government will do everything possible to support the initiative.
“The company looks serious. We want to start manufacturing our own cigarettes and cigars and other value adding initiatives. The President (Peter Mutharika) has given us up to 2019 to start value adding to our tobacco.
“While in the country, we will make sure we provide all the logistical support because there is no room for failure,” said Chiyembekeza.
He said government was also in talks with two companies from United Arab Emirates (UAE) and another from Vietnam to also set up similar projects in a drive to boost exports and widen the manufacturing sector base.
Chiyembekeza said government will ensure smooth discussions on land, taxation and importation of machinery, among others.
The move by ETC comes few months after President Mutharika decried the failed investment into the tobacco sector by Japanese company JTI.
The company announced it had rechannelled its planned investment to Belgium, Sudan and Egypt due to failure by the Malawian authorities to be responsive to their plans.
However, JTI Leaf Malawi managing director Fries Vanneste earlier said the company is still committed to invest further in JTI Leaf Malawi.