The government is optimistic that it will enter into a Public Private Partnership (PPP) with local cigarette manufacturing company Nyasa Manufacturing Company (NMC) for the expansion of the company.
Minister of Industry and Trade, Joseph Mwanamvekha said this on Friday when he visited the company at its Ginnery Corner premises.
Mwanamvekha noted that Nyasa is doing a remarkable job in value addition and poverty alleviation through job creation.
“This is very important. The company is also doing import substitution; they are making cigarettes in the country,” said Mwanamvekha.
“We would want to see the company grow, produce enough for both local and international markets and increase their workforce,” he said.
He said the issue of going into PPP with Nyasa which has been under discussion during the Late Bingu wa Mutharika rule is still on the table.
“We are still discussing and I still believe with the commitment we have as the government, we should be able see that the partnership concluded,” said Mwanamvekha.
He said the government will support Nyasa to make sure that they grow and be able to export.
“It is the government’s policy to support local manufacturing companies,” said Mwanamvekha.
Nyasa managing director Konrad Buckle said the company would like to grow in the country.
“We want to re-invest in Malawi and grow the company in Malawi which is the third biggest tobacco producer in the world. I do not understand why we, as a country are failing to do value addition. Our aim is to add value as much as possible of our tobacco,” he said.
Buckle said if value addition is done locally, it will help to improve prices on the tobacco auction floors.
“The prices are very volatile, but if we value add locally, many Malawians will benefit. We should strive to be an exporting country. It is possible. The market for cigarettes within the region is massive, in excess of 200 billion sticks per year,” said Buckle.
He said, however, that for the company to grow into a multinational, it needs national support, hence the need for the government to come in and assist.
He said with the government’s assistance, the company can turn the country into the biggest cigarette producer in the sub-Saharan Africa.
“Our capacity since we started production in 2010 has grown to almost 50 percent of the Malawian market. Our brands are competitive and the sky is the limit. We can take this company into the whole Africa,” said Buckle.
He said with a bigger production, the company can take up 30 to 40 percent of the locally produced tobacco and create more than 4,000 jobs.