When Tony Dahl, the owner of “Better ‘Ole” Farm, planted a few pieces of cane that a friend had brought back from Natal, South Africa, he could not have envisioned that 60 years later the cane would grow into a huge sugar estate at Nakambala in Mazabuka and turn into a major world-class business operation. Today, Zambia Sugar, the successor to “Better ‘Ole” produces in excess of 400 000 tons of sugar annually, translating into around K2 billion in annual revenues.

Ironically, Dahl would be pleasantly surprised at the phenomenal growth of the company in a challenging environment since pre-Independence, to become the largest sugar producer in Zambia and the second largest single sugar mill in Africa with over 6 000 employees at peak, and the field of cane he started having grown into the present day Nakambala Estate with an estate population exceeding 16 000.


Key Events in the History of Zambia Sugar

1966 - 1975 

1966 – Tate & Lyle develops the Nakambala Estate as Zambia Sugar Company.

1968 – Sugar production begins and the raw sugar is sent to Ndola for refining.

1972 – Industrial Development Corporation (INDECO) takes a 51% stake in Zambia Sugar Company.

1975 – INDECO raises holding to 78% whilst Tate & Lyle retained 10.8% shareholding and provided technical and managerial services.



1990 – Operations consolidated at Nakambala Estate, and the refinery moved to Nakambala from Ndola.

1995 – Zambia Sugar Company privatised and Tate & Lyle becomes the major shareholder with a 50.9% stake, whilst Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC) takes a 31% stake and the Zambia Pritization Trust Fund retains the balance.

1996 – Successfully listed on the Lusaka Stock Exchange as Zambia Sugar Plc. Zambians were finally able to buy shares in the Company.

2001 – Illovo Sugar Limited acquires the 50.9% Tate & Lyle shares, and as required by law, makes a mandatory offer to minority shareholders and thereby increases its shareholding to 89.71%. Through continuous improvement and investment, Illovo raised sugar production from below 190 000 tons at the time of acquisition to around 240 000 tons prior to expansion in 2006.commissioned.




2001 – Illovo Sugar Limited acquires the 50.9% Tate & Lyle shares, and as required by law, makes a mandatory offer to minority shareholders and thereby increases its shareholding to 89.71%. Through continuous improvement and investment, Illovo raised sugar production from below 190 000 tons at the time of acquisition to around 240 000 tons prior to expansion in 2006.

2007 – The Nakambala Expansion Project launched. The agriculture and milling expansion was completed on schedule in April 2009 and was commissioned on 9 December 2009, as the largest single investment made in the Zambian agricultural industry to that date. The expansion effectively doubled the cane crushing capacity of the factory, to process the increased cane supply resulting from an expanded sugar cane growing area. On the agricultural side, the expansion entailed the construction of a network of dams, canals, pipelines, pump stations, roads and power infrastructure to service the new areas of sugarcane development, which have all been planted under centre pivot irrigation systems.

2009 – The Company acquired a controlling interest in Nanga Farms Plc (“Nanga”), a cane growing company, located adjacent to the Nakambala Estate, and currently producing around 350 000 tons of sugar cane per annum.

To fund the acquisition of Nanga and meet other capital requirements, the Company made a Rights Issue in that year which led Illovo Sugar to dilute its shareholding in Zambia Sugar to 81.55%. The shares released by Illovo have empowered Zambians through increased shareholding by institutional investors and individuals.

2013 – Launch of Manyonyo scheme. Manyonyo outgrower scheme is a government initiative with 145 smallholder farmers and funded by the Finnish government and African Development Bank.




2014 Illovo Group Holding Limited sells down shareholding in Zambia Sugar Plc to 76% stake in compliance with Lusaka Stock Exchange (LuSE) threshold.

2015 – Product Alignment and Refinery Project launched. This involves construction of a modern, high-specification refinery to double refined sugar production to almost 100 000 tons and to establish 3 distinct raw sugar products.

2016 – Refinery completed and commissioned.