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Privatisation will kill the local sugar industry

By The Standard | Nov 24th 2017 | 1 min read

The sugar industry in Kenya has been going through a rough patch in recent years. Once the largest sugar producer in the region, Kenya today imports sugar to meet local demand as local millers like the giant Mumias Sugar Company face hurdles that are seemingly insurmountable.

Not only has the company been unable to pay farmers their dues, it is also sagging under a huge debt burden occasioned by mismanagement.

The injection of more than Sh3 billion by the Government, part of a promised Sh5 billion bail-out, has not had any impact to date, yet there is talk of privatising the sugar industry.

Privatisation will not address the key problems affecting the sector; rather, it would be a way of compounding them. The history of privatisation in Kenya has not been a good one.

The cotton industry, for example, is completely dead following privatisation. With it came the death of factories like Rift Valley Textiles and Kisumu Cotton Mills.

There is no evidence of the ginneries that once graced many areas of western Kenya. The same thing happened to the once-vibrant coffee industry.

Cartels, which are largely responsible for the death of the sugar industry in Kenya, are waiting on the sidelines to take advantage of privatisation to flood the market with cheap sugar imports whose impact would be to drive local production under.

This should not be allowed to happen if the Government is serious about poverty eradication, rapid industrialisation and the achievement of Vision 2030 goals.

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