Egypt Eastern Tobacco Company, which has partnered Malawi Leaf Company Limited to set up a cigarette manufacturing plant in Lilongwe, has the capacity to buy all the cigarettes that will be produced.
In an interview on the sidelines of a cocktail reception commemorating the signing of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the two companies in Lilongwe on Friday, the Egyptian company’s chairperson Nabil Mohsen said Egypt requires 85 billion sticks a year; hence, a ready market for cigarettes produced in Malawi.
“Despite the anti-smoking lobby, we believe we are not going into a danger zone because Egypt alone can consume 85 billion sticks and this is a huge market. Apart from that, we know that Malawi neighbours will also be importing the cigarettes because it will be relatively cheap and we are very excited with this project,” he said.
The company has already been offered a five-hectare land in Area 25, which belongs to AHL Group, and is expected to invest $20 million (K9 billion) on a factory depending on the size. The project is estimated to be completed within 18 months.
Mohsen, who has been in the tobacco sector for about 40 years, said Malawi produces the best burley in the world, hence cigarettes manufactured here will be of good quality.
Minister of Industry and Trade Joseph Mwananvekha said discussions to set up the factory started in 2009 and it is encouraging that tangible fruits can be seen on the ground.
“The new factory will create new jobs and tobacco farmers are assured of a market, which will be taking more of their produce at very good prices,” he said.