Showing posts with label Jeddah. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jeddah. Show all posts

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Major Saudi Arabian Agro Processor To Invest In Zambia

By Paul Shalala in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

A major Saudi Arabian agro processor has expressed interest to invest in Zambia and tap the nation's agro raw materials.

Halwani Brothers, a family-run agro processor, produces various products such as cheese, jam, halawa, ice cream and several beef products.

The company, which commenced operations in 1830, is worth US$1 billion and annually makes US$400 million.

On Wednesday, Zambia's President Edgar Lungu toured a number of its factories which sit on a 60,000 hectares of land owned by the company on the outskirts of the Red Sea resort city of Jeddah.

"We process over 20,000 tonnes of raw materials annually. Most of these materials come from African countries such as Ethiopia and Sudan," said Halwani Brothers Chief Executive Officer Saleh Ahmed Hefni.

He also disclosed that the firm only has one factory in Africa and it is located in Egypt.

Mr Hefni said the firm supplies many African countries from its Egyptian factory and South Africa is one of their major markets.

During the tour, President Lungu interacted with a number of female employees who were packing jam in one of the factories.

After the tour, the Zambian head of state could not hide his joy of seeing females working alongside men in a strict Islamic state.

"We are always told that women are discriminated against and not allowed to work here. What i have seen here is otherwise. You have 10% of your workforce as females, when i come back in future let me find 50% but dont exceed that.......," joked President Lungu.

And the company chief said Halwani Brothers was employing females because they want them to be an integral part of the workforce.

"We have 1,000 employees and more than 100 of them are women. Here in Saudi Arabia there is a deliberate government policy to employ women and we are just following it," said Mr Hefni.

President Lungu later urged the company to come to Zambia, set up a factory and use local raw materials to process finished products.

"We have eight neighbouring countries who are also into agriculture. Setting up a factory in our country wand it will give you a big market in the region. As a government we will give you the protection and support," said the President.

In response, Mr Hefni said he will visit Zambia soon to look at prospects of establishing a permanent base for the company's operations in southern Africa.

Next week, the head of the Saudi Fund for Development is visiting Zambia to finalise preparations for the construction of the US$100 King Abdulaziz Hospital in Lusaka which will have an 800 bed capacity.\

The hospital is planned to be constructed in a densely populated area of the capital and it will be specialised in women and children.

The visit will also be used to finalise details of the US$20 million government to government five year oil deal which was agreed in February and is yet to be operationalised through the state owned Saudi Aramco oil firm.

And in a few months time, a business delegation from Zambia is expected to visit Saudi Arabia to forge business links with their Saudi counterparts in the wake of President Lungu's recent two day state visit to the Kingdom.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Saudi Arabia Offers Five Years US$20M Cheap Oil To Zambia

By Paul Shalala in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

The Saudi Arabian government, through the Saudi Fund for Development, has offered a US$20 million revolving fund to supply cheap oil to Zambia and reduce domestic fuel prices for the next five years.

The oil money, which is being offered at a 3.5% interest, is meant to reduce Zambia's fuel prices which are one of the highest in Southern Africa.

Currently, a liter of petrol in Zambia is sold at around K10 (US$1).

Zambia occasionally faces shortages of fuel which mostly leads to the increase in pump prices.

Due to lapses in procurement processes and sometimes bureaucracy, shortages occur and most of the times they result in panic buying and motorists spending hours, queuing up for fuel at filling stations. 

The country imports its fuel from the Middle East through the Tanzanian port city of Dar es Salaam and the commodity is then transported through the Tazama pipeline to the city of Ndola where Zambia's only oil refinery is located.

 "We are now in the final stages of our negotiations and we are hopeful that within a month, the supply of cheap Saudi Arabian oil to Zambia will start," said Zambia's Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Ibrahim Mumba.

The Zambian diplomat says the Saudis have already given a go ahead to help Zambia but a few logistics are remaining before the deal can be done.

"The Saudi Fund has come to our aid. We have already spoken to Saudi Aramco, the largest oil company in the world and they are ready to produce and ship the fuel to Zambia."

It is understood that the Saudi Fund has offered to release the US$20 million to send the first consignment of the fuel but talks on how the funds can be transferred to Zambia are still on.

Zanaco, formerly the Zambia National Commercial Bank, is in talks with the Saudi Fund to help in the payments for the deal.

Zambia's President Edgar Lungu is expected in the Saudi Arabian port city of Jeddah on Wedneday for a two day state visit.

According to officials in his advance party, President Lungu is expected to broker the oil deal and several other bilateral issues which would benefit Zambia.

Already, Saudi Arabia has financed the construction of the Kalabo-Sioma road and the rehabilitation of the University Teaching Hospital, Zambia's largest referral hospital which is based in Lusaka.

 Ambassador Ibrahim Mumba
Over a year ago, Saudi Arabia offered to build a US$100 million specialist hospital for women and children  to help in the reduction of infact and maternal mortality rates.

The 800 bed hospital is expected to be based in a densely populated urban area but progress on the project has been allegedly delayed by the Zambian authorities who are yet to agree to the Saudi terms and conditions.

Saudi Arabia and Zambia each have years of diplomatic representations but Zambia's mission in Riyadh was closed decades ago andit only re-opened a few years ago.

Despite abit of progress on a number of fronts, the two countries still do not have a Joint Permanent Commission where bilateral issues, disputes and collaborations could be discussed.