British American Tobacco (BAT) has completed the construction of US $25 million cigarette manufacturing plant at Lusaka’s South Multi-Facility Economic Zone, which will increase and localize its brand portfolio in Zambia.

BAT Zambia managing director Godfrey Machanzi said in an interview that the plant had so far created 72 direct jobs for locals, and a further 2,500 jobs in formal and informal sectors.

“We are very committed towards contributing to the country’s economic development agenda as this plant will contribute to the overall growth of the economy in many ways; this is just one of the ways. I can say that the construction of the factory is also evidence enough of government’s continued resolution of creating an enabling environment for investors to invest in the country. The company once had a factory in the country, but it was closed. We are now back with a much bigger plant and this shows just how much confidence we have in the Zambian economy. There are many reasons that led to the closure of the first plant, but the fact that we have constructed another one, is testimony of the confidence we have in this economy. Just like in many others countries where tobacco is produced, tobacco production supports many jobs up and downstream, therefore, making a positive impact in the country’s economy,” said Machanzi.

“May I also take this opportunity to urge government to help in regulating the sector because illicit tobacco trade has continued to be the biggest challenge making Zambia the highest incidence of illicit-imported tobacco products in southern Africa. This means that the locally-produced tobacco faces unfair competition as the products from outside are sold at cheap prices. These cigarettes smuggled from neighbouring countries has significantly contributed to the illicit tobacco market. We, however, express our gratitude to government for the support before and during the construction of the plant, and the fair and balanced business regulations.”