Royal Eswatini Sugar Corporation

In the beginning…….

Simunye Sugar Estate was developed in north east Swaziland by the Royal Swaziland Sugar Corporation (RSSC) in the late 1970’s.  10 000 hectares of light tree cover and bush were cleared to provide over 9 000 hectares of irrigated sugarcane together with roads, water storage, canal systems, offices, stores and maintenance workshops.  A well-equipped training centre was also established at the start of the project to provide apprentices with skills relevant to the estate.  In this sparsely populated area it was also necessary to construct two towns to accommodate a large workforce and their families.  This entailed the provision of housing, utilities, schools, clinics, community and sports facilities and a shopping centre.

In 1980 the Simunye Sugar mill was commissioned at a capacity of 120 000 tonnes sugar per annum.  It was subsequently expanded in 2000 to accommodate cane purchased from new independent cane farmer schemes.

RES Corporation today

In 2001, the RSSC shareholders agreed to a merger with the neighbouring Mhlume Sugar Company and the new enlarged RSSC was launched in 2002.  In 2020 the Royal Swaziland Sugar Corporation changed its name to the Royal Eswatini Sugar Corporation, abbreviated to RES Corporation or more commonly RES.

Listed on the Eswatini Stock Exchange, RES is the largest company in Eswatini employing over 2 000 permanent staff and producing two thirds of the country’s sugar.  It owns and manages over 15 000 hectares of irrigated sugarcane on estate land leased from the Eswatini Nation and manages a further 5 000 hectares on behalf of third parties, delivering some 2 million tonnes of cane per season to RES’s two sugar mills.  A significant volume of cane is also sourced from a large number of small independent farmers and in total RES crushes around 3.5 million tonnes of cane per year and produces some 450 000 tonnes of sugar (96 pol).

RES also operates a sugar refinery at the Mhlume mill which produces approximately 120 000 tonnes of refined sugar per season.

Sugar packaging  In 2005 Mananga Sugar Packers, a joint venture between RES and RCL FOODS, was established at Mhlume mill to pack and sell sugar within the region.

Ethanol  In 1995 RES completed construction of a distillery adjacent to Simunye mill to produce industrial grade ethanol and potable spirit from all the molasses produced by Simunye.  In early 2007 a major expansion project was commissioned to utilise all the molasses from both Mhlume and Simunye.  It now has the capacity to produce some 33 million litres per year; most is exported, primarily to African markets and the EU.

Social infrastructure  RES provides and manages housing and all related infrastructure for its employees and their dependants, in the estates’ various towns and villages.  RES provides health care at two site-based clinics, centrally managed by a Medical Services Manager, the emphasis being on primary health care and the prevention of diseases.  RES also provides first-class education at a private English medium school.

Safety, Health and Environment  RES maintains a well-established Safety, Health and Environmental policy which aims to provide safe working conditions, safeguarding all those affected by the operations of RES and ensuring the maintenance of a clean and healthy environment.  RES has recognised HIV/AIDS as a strategic business issue and is managing it at the highest level in the organisation.

Provision of services by Booker Tate

Booker Tate has provided services to RES from its inception to the present day.  These have ranged from the initial Feasibility Study in the 1970’s to project management for the Simunye estate and factory development to operational and corporate management.  Since the merger with Mhlume, Booker Tate has provided management services and latterly, technical support services through RCL FOODS, which acquired a significant shareholding in RES in 2005.

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In Brief

  • 1975 Feasibility study for new sugar project
  • 1977 RSSC established
  • 1977 Booker Tate awarded 10 year operational/project management contract for Simunye
  • 1980 Commissioning of 120 000 ts/y factory
  • 1984 Cyclone Demoina causes extensive damage
  • 1987 Management agreement renewed
  • 1990 Final settlement of all foreign loans
  • 1995 Commissioning of 40 000 l/d distillery
  • 2000 Factory expansion completed
  • 2001 Agreement to merge RSSC with Mhlume Sugar Company
  • 2002 New RSSC launched
  • 2005 Mananga Sugar Packers commences operations
  • 2007 Distillery expansion to 32 million l/y
  • 2016 Ongoing technical support services agreement
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