US climate tzar John Kerry’s deputy has just arrived for a 10-day visit to Africa to see how the Joe Biden administration can deliver on its ... promise to help one of the biggest victims of a warming planet transition to a clean energy future.
Just like other West African heads of state, Côte d’Ivoire’s President Alassane Ouattara has been implementing several measures to counter the rise in food prices and limit its impact on purchasing power.
These include setting price ceilings for certain products, including rice, oil and flour; creating regional committees dedicated to fighting against the high cost of living and increasing the number of controls on regulated tariffs.
At the same time, governments – in partnership with the private sector – are seeking to accelerate local production. Côte d’Ivoire, for its part, is looking to develop its sugar sector, as Souleymane Diarrassouba, minister of trade and industry as well as the former director-general of the Atlantic Business International (ABI) group, explains to us.
What are you doing to revive the Ivorian sugar industry, which is not very competitive on the international scene?
Souleymane Diarrassouba: The government has signed a €230m investment contract plan with the companies Sucaf (Somdiaa) and Sucrivoire (Sifca). It is also aiming to increase production from 206,037 tonnes (tn) in 2021 to 255,091 tn by 2025.
Special import authorisation – albeit with a zero margin – has been granted to these industrialists to take care of 50% of the agri-food industries’ needs, using sugar as an input. Finally, a research programme has been launched to improve the yield of our sugar cane plantations.
Sugar imports from Brazil and Thailand, often via other West African countries, are weakening the sector. What are some possible solutions?
We continue to strengthen market surveillance and border controls to track down offenders. It is also a matter of ensuring that sugar imported and destined for hinterland countries is not resold in our country during transit.
Our administration – together with customs and the Association des Industries Sucrières de Côte d’Ivoire, AIS (Association of Sugar Industries of Côte d’Ivoire) which work in perfect harmony – is doing everything it can to protect the sector.
How will we become self-sufficient when it comes to sugar?
The contract plan, which was signed on 1 May of this year, makes provisions for this objective to be achieved over the next five years. The two agro-industrial groups’ investments in their factories, plantations and R&D will enable a gradual and parallel increase in raw cane and sugar production as well as improve the sector’s competitiveness.
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