A new factory owned by Singapore’s Royal Nuts was opened in Cote d’Ivoire in July. This is the first in a series of three new planned investments by Singaporean firms in Cote d’Ivoire’s agro-processing industry, worth over US$130m. These investments will create thousands of new permanent jobs in Cote d’Ivoire and will bolster Ivorian-Singapore bilateral relations.
The 12-hectare (ha) US$23m Royal Nuts factory is located in Toumodi in the Bellier region, employs over 1,020 people, and has an annual processing capacity of 75,000 metric tonnes (MT). This will increase Cote d’Ivoire’s cashew manufacturing capacity significantly. Currently, the country only processes between 100,000MT and 330,000MT per year of cashews despite producing approximately 1 million MT of nuts per year. The crop generates US$800m in revenue for the country.
This income could be bolstered if the country exports increased quantities of processed cashews as opposed to the raw product. As such, boosting local processing capacity to at least 50% of the annual crop is a key goal of the government. Underscoring the importance of this, the factory’s inauguration was attended by Prime Minister Patrick Achi.
The opening of the Royal Nuts factory occurred not long after the May announcement that another Singaporean firm, Valency International Pte Ltd, is securing capital via its Ivorian subsidiary, Valency International Trading SARL (Valency CIV), to develop another cashew processing plant. Thus far, Valency CIV has already secured US$20m from the Norwegian and Finnish development funds. Valency CIV wants to develop a facility with an annual capacity of 45,000MT on the outskirts of Abidjan. This facility will employ at least 2,000 people.
In June, the Singapore-headquartered JB Foods broke ground on its new cocoa processing plant in Abidjan. This is another major agro-processing development – the JB Foods facility is being funded through an initial investment of around US$63m. The project is being driven by the company’s cocoa division, JB Cocoa, which entered Cote d’Ivoire in 2019. This is the company’s first plant in Africa and is expected to be operational by the end of 2024. The plant will have a processing capacity of 50,000MT of cocoa per year and will generate 100 direct jobs. Importantly, this could mark the start of a larger engagement by the Singaporean-headquartered agro-processing firm, as the Ivorian government wants to process 100% of its cocoa domestically by 2030.
Cote d’Ivoire is actively working to bolster its agro-processing capabilities in order to better benefit from the country’s quality agriculture produce. The government is seeking foreign investment to drive this agenda. The investments by Royal Nuts, Valency International Pte Ltd, and JB Foods have positioned Singapore as a major player in this industry in Cote d’Ivoire, providing an enhanced platform for other Singaporean firms seeking opportunities in this sector. The entrance of the aforementioned Singaporean firms underlines the good relations between the island state and Cote d’Ivoire. This is despite the fact that Abidjan still needs to ratify the 2014 Cote d'Ivoire-Singapore Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT). Should Cote d’Ivoire do this trade and investment between the two countries could exceed the current annual trade of USS$65m.
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