Zambian-owned Roland Tobacco company has the capacity to produce cigarette filters locally, says company division general manager Aliport Ngoma.
Mr Ngoma said the tobacco plant that was commissioned last week was capable of contributing to the country’s economic growth.
He said the plant would no longer waste forex, as was a case when they it imported some raw materials.
“The high excise duty was affecting investments in the upstream tobacco processing infrastructure in Zambia, and this time we will not be wasting forex on imports,” he said.
He said the company was set to establish Zambia’s first primary tobacco-processing plant to manufacture the “cut rag”, the form of tobacco used in cigarrette production locally.
Mr Ngoma said the achievement would see an increase in job creation which would uplift the livelihood of the local people.
“This project will stimulate business in Zambia to benefit the local people because all the materials which we used to import in the tobacco-processing will be manufactured in Zambia.
“When we expand our plant we are capable of locally producing cigarette filters and this is a milestone to the economic growth of Zambia,” he said.
Mr Ngoma said the future of the Zambian tobacco farmer would be more assured with such local tobacco processing facilities, which were currently non-existent.
Roland Tobacco was currently producing about two billion cigarettes a year which was about twice the cigarrettes sold in Zambia annually. “Zambia can produce some of the finest tobacco in the world, but most of it is exported in its unprocessed form, and with such an investment everything could be done locally to create jobs for the majority poor,” he said.
Mr Ngoma said his company planned to export cigarettes to the SADC and COMESA as well as other African markets.
The company is investing in a US$20 million for the expansion of the primary tobacco processing plant in Zambia.