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CPS, the renowned real estate developer, is excited to provide an update on "The Soul", its Residential Resort Development in Paje, Zanzibar. The first phase of the development is nearly complete, with 50 handovers expected to take place in the coming month. This is an important milestone for the project, as it represents the culmination of years of hard work and dedication by the CPS team.

To date, 4 buildings have been completed with more than 100 handovers already done. This is a testament to the quality and craftsmanship of the development. "The Soul" has been designed to offer residents a unique living experience, combining modern architecture with sustainable design.

With clients from more than 40 different countries, "The Soul" has become a true international destination, offering a unique living experience in one of the most beautiful locations in the world. As the first registered condominium project in Zanzibar, "The Soul" has set a new standard for luxury living in the region.

The development's green concept, which incorporates the lagoon into the design, has been a key selling point for buyers looking for a sustainable living option. The development has also been designed to promote a healthy lifestyle for its residents, with a focus on preserving the natural environment.

Each unit at "The Soul" boasts high-quality finishing, ensuring that residents enjoy an aesthetically pleasing and functional living space. From the stylish kitchens to the bathrooms, every aspect of the development has been carefully considered to provide residents with the ultimate living experience.
As the East Coast Boom continues and demand for quality housing grows,

"The Soul" is poised to become a true landmark development in the heart of Paje, Zanzibar. CPS is proud to have been the developer behind "The Soul" and looks forward to completing the project's first phase and continuing to create world-class developments that offer sustainable living options for buyers around the globe.

Surely an enrichment for Zanzibar is Kim’s Vietnamese kitchen and style at the East Coast

When a Vietnamese has a lot of work, he feels blessed. When a Zanzibari is busy, people say “pole sana”, sorry. It is for such words of wisdom, peaceful Buddhist vibes, Vietnamese all-day-breakfast and coffee with condensed milk, and for Pho soup, of course, that people love to visit Kim Nguyen at her two premises on the East Coast. 

The new Hanoi House is a tiny café on the main road in Paje. Renovated along Zen principles with the entrance facing east, it is a quiet oasis on a very busy street. 

Kim, 33, came from Hanoi to Zanzibar in 2019, and stayed. “I only learnt here how to cook”, she says. Her Duyen beach restaurant at the Sherazad Hotel in Jambiani is another big draw. “Zanzibar reminds me of my childhood in Vietnam”, the former social worker says. Home style cooking is her trademark, herbs like basil and coriander she finds here, but she imports Asian noodles. “Eat them with chopsticks”, Kim Anh advises with a smile, “it makes you more mindful.”

Hanoi House Café, Paje, Ph. +255 772434 995

Duyen beach restaurant @Sharazad, hotel, Jambiani, 11:00-22:00, Mondays closed

It’s not the label, which makes you green but the content. This certainly applies to the Blue Oyster Hotel, a family-run, popular hideout with 18 rooms in Jambiani. The hotel, opened in 1999, can pride itself of being the very first in Zanzibar to receive the “Responsible Tourism Tanzania Certification” (RTTZ) at the highest, so-called ‘tree level’. “We had to fulfil 272 criteria for that in an auditing process”, says Simon Beiser, who together with his brother Anwar runs the beach property founded by their father, the late Klaus Beiser.

Sorry, no pool

There is no pool and no air conditioning. Instead “we have the ocean on our doorstep, coastal winds and fans in the rooms”, says Anwar Beiser: “Responsible tourism has a high importance for our daily business.” A simple set-up of only four solar panels provides hot water for the entire hotel, while a natural basin filters grey water for gardening use. All waste is collected and recycled. Staff are encouraged to bring their trash from home to learn how to separate it. “It’s the simplicity of most ideas which strikes me most”, says manageress Louise Tinning, 29, who holds a bachelor degree in sustainable tourism. 

Staff from the neighbourhood

Other pillars of green success include fresh seasonal dishes. No endangered fish, but a local catch, fruits, veggies and meat from local farms. “Aware and well-trained staff”, says Tinning, is also very important. Many of the thirty or so staff members come from neighbouring villages, all are properly health insured and were kept on board even during the pandemic. 
Blue Oyster has started a foundation for schools and maternity support in the neighbourhood. Captain Zapi, a former fisherman, takes guests on popular sunset cruises in an ngalawa outrigger boat - one of the many examples of Zanzibari being integrated in the hotel. But the most special Blue Oyster green trick is the most simple: Everyday around 5 pm while guests are happily turning their sunbeds towards the gentle late-afternoon sun, a young waiter goes around to collect early dinner orders. Fresh coconut crusted fish today? Or better spinach stew with chapatis? “With early orders we avoid throwing away at least twenty portions per night”, explains Louise Tinning. So easy a conscious holiday can be! 

Tree house for a parliament

The Pritzker prize for architects is what the Oscar is for Hollywood stars. In 2022, for the first time an African architect won the most prestigious award. Diébédo Francis Kéré from Burkina Faso is known for innovative buildings made of ancient material such as clay and wood and for his sense of “giving back to the community”. 

57 year old Kéré studied carpentry and architecture at the Technical University of Berlin, where he has his own architecture firm until today. After his studies one of his first designs was for a school in his home village in Burkina Faso, where he grew up  as one of 13 siblings.

In 2017 he designed the Serpentine Pavilion at Kensington Garden in London, in 2019 one of his most iconic buildings, a wooden parliament for Benin, a project still in planning. It is inspired by the concept of the Palaver Tree, an African  tradition of gathering under a tree to make consensual decisions.  Kéré has received multiple awards for his contribution towards ‘architecture for humans’; including the prestigious Aga Khan Award for Architecture. His work is spread across four continents and in numerous countries like Mali, Yemen, China and the United States of America. 

The Pritzker Prize was established in Chicago in 1979; architecture stars like Norman Foster and Zaha Hadid have received it.

Coral reefs are the rainforests of the sea. And yet, in Zanzibar they are diminishing at an alarming speed. In Mnemba, corals are now artificially re-grown. 

Corals are critically important ecosystems hosting more than 25 per cent of all marine life. Their decline threatens local livelihoods, fisheries and tourism. The pressures on Zanzibar’s reefs mirror threats facing coral reefs around the world: increasing water temperatures resulting from climate change, tropical cyclones, destructive fishing practices, plastic waste and, last but not least, unregulated tourism. 

The reefs adjacent to Mnemba Island and northern Unguja Island – a very popular snorkelling and diving spot - annually contribute an estimated one million dollars to the local economy via eco-tourism. However, the pressure on these reefs “has led to their rapid degradation, with live coral cover significantly reduced to only five per cent of the reef area”, says the environmental group “Ocean without borders”. A coral reef restoration project on Mnemba Island now includes a quite spectacular community-owned artificial reef site. 

Tiny corals growing up like babies

The project kicked off in September 2021. An area near the original Mnemba Island Reef was selected as a living underwater laboratory for the project. In 15 so-called coral nurseries made of nets and frames new corals are re-grown. The “successfully cultivated coral colonies will soon be transplanted onto degraded sections of the Mnemba Reef”, the organisation announced. The experiment is comparable to a hair transplant for a bold guy. 

At this crucial point some funding from the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA) became available. Against several competitors worldwide 30,000 euro were awarded to the Zanzibar group of Dr Tessa Hempson, a marine biologist, diver and special representative of Mnemba owner andBeyond. The activist said: “We are thrilled to receive this important funding that will have far-reaching benefits across marine research and education in Zanzibar.” 

More pressure by more hotels?

But what about the on-going pressure on the reef by ever expanding tourism on the island? Directly opposite the quiet Mnemba private island with its small barefoot luxury retreat , a large new hotel and villa project with more than 1000 beds are being built on mainland Zanzibar. “The andBeyond team together with the marine conservation department in Zanzibar are keeping a close eye on these developments to ensure no further negative environmental impact”, the company said.

The reef rebirth in Mnemba is one of the daily activities undertaken by “Oceans Without Borders”. Three days a week marine rangers go underwater to check on the coral nursery. It’s a scientific task almost like a space mission – but underwater. To create the artificial new colony, corals were collected from a variety of sites around Mnemba Island. The GPS location of every small part is recorded before it is glued with cement to the so-called coral table. To ensure healthy growth, algae is brushed off each coral piece. The fragments, a mix of different species ensuring genetic biodiversity, take between 25 and 40 weeks to grow into a transplantable coral colony. 

Local reef custodians

A team of local marine rangers, headed by coordinator Nancy Iraba, collects the research data. School learners, young people, boat operators and fishermen have already been brought into the boat, so to speak. They learn about tending the underwater nursery, are involved in beach erosion surveys and spend plenty of interactive community time. The next phase of the project will create a full additional reef. Fishers, tour guides and school children will become local reef custodians – for a healthy sea in Zanzibar. 

EXCLUSIVE How Zanzibar will turn small islands into big-time holiday spots

19 small islands are to become prime luxury hideaways. THE FUMBA TIMES was given exclusive access to the amazing plans for the first of them, Pamunda A and B. 

Meet Lukáš Šinogl, the new prince of – well, not Zamunda – but Pamunda. The 34 year old rightly feels like having entered a blockbuster, similar to Eddie Murphy as crown prince of the fictional African nation of Zamunda, a Hollywood mega success in the 80s. Šinogls company, the owners of renowned 5-star Tulia Beach Resort in Pongwe Pwani, was given the much-fought-over green light to develop two tiny islands, Pamunda A and B, just south-west off the Fumba peninsula. Budget: 30-50 million dollars, coincidentally just what Hollywood spent on making Murphy’s “Coming to America”.

The uninhabited Pamunda isles – until now merely coral rag bush country – are two of ten small islands recently handed over to investors by the government for a total of 261,5 million dollars in expected investments. “This shall boost the blue economy and open up more investment opportunities for Zanzibar”, a government spokesperson explained the purpose of the deal, happy about the cash flow. And because the initiative, which attracted over 50 affluent bidders, went so well, Zanzibar immediately decided to put another nine of his small isles up for grabs.

Zanzibar goes Maldives

 “But we do not sell them, we only lease them”, assured Shariff Ali Shariff the public. The director of the Zanzibar Investment Promotion Authority (ZIPA) and Investment Minister Mudrik R. Soraga are the driving force behind the island scheme. Strategic investment is the key word of the deal: the daring financiers, whether local or foreign, are promised wide benefits in return for their island venture such as a 50 per cent exemption of income tax for ten years. 

The envisaged small-island-tourism will bring a touch of Maldives to Zanzibar. Pamunda’s winning design is not just luxury but upper-upper-luxury: a circle of stilted water villas will be connecting the two Pamunda islands of together six hectares. On the slightly elevated islands, premium restaurants, bars and event space will be placed. The 16 water and 7 coral villas, each ultra-spacious with more than 300 square metres, will form a private wellness world complete with a resident doctor, sauna, gym, spa, home office. Does the lady of the house require a hairdresser? “She’ll be served in her private salon”, envisages Šinogl. Guests arrive by boat or helicopter.

No bling-bling, please!

“Will have no bling-bling”, insists the gentle, down-to-earth manager, among whose clients has been the Sultan of Oman. “Even VIPs can take their masks off with us.” His visitors want “the real thing”, he says, “genuine, natural, quality relaxation, hakuna matata, but with quality.” The architectural plans for Pamunda are drawn, the environmental assessment studies done. “Zero harm to the environment”, promise the developers; bungalows will be placed four metres above sea level facing east, taking tides, wind and yes, also global warming, into consideration.

All small-island-candidates, the ministry says, were tested but only a few found worthy of the projects after screening their financial and operational capacity. All had to prove “ability to conserve the environment, biodiversity, cultural heritage and community development”- lest no one would accuse the government of selling its assets. For cultural festivities Zanzibari still have access to the islands. Lukáš Šinogl and the two investors behind him, all hailing from the Czech republic, passed the test without hesitation.

Green care learnt in Fumba

They have learnt to master the game at the Tulia resort, opened in 2015 and one of Zanzibar’s best five star retreats. 16 bungalow suites, 125 staff, manicured gardens and a service so perfect one doesn’t even notice it, are the backbone of the property. At Tulia, Champagne is all-inclusive and so is a waterslide, rather unusual for a luxury hotel but much loved by children. Especially impressive is the green back-up, developed by the permaculture team of Fumba Town: 250 hens and 150 ducks happily roam around a huge ever-green farm in the back of the beach property which produces all there is to eat and enjoy by Tulia guests. Friendly maids are mopping shiny mahogany villa floors with lemon grass concoction, a natural insect killer.

“Much of what we have learnt here, we will also put into practice at the future Pamunda resort”, says the general manager. There, villas will start at $3200 - per night.  For Šinogl and the government the ultra-luxury concept makes sense. Presently, only one per cent of accommodation in Zanzibar is in the premium range. “Zanzibar is too small to go for quantity; high-value-tourism is the better option”, says the manager. And who knows, maybe the concept will harvest just as much for Zanzibar as the Prince of Zamunda, who brought in 350 million dollars at the box office.


Christo, the famous wrapping artist, would surely have loved it. A huge black fabric covering an entire block of new apartments dropped down with the precision of a stage curtain during the official opening of The Soul residential resort in Paje a few weeks ago. When the curtain fell, a dozen new homeowners from Tanzania, Kenya, UAE and from as far as the US and Canada ran towards the building to examine and take over their African investment. “It’s so beautiful, I don’t want to live anywhere else”, exclaimed an African-American lady from Panama, who said she is planning to spend her retirement in Zanzibar.  

The paint has not yet dried on the facade, ten more apartment blocks and a huge man-made lagoon are still in the making, but for Zanzibar, the holiday complex in the hinterland of kite-surfing hotspot Paje, only about 300 metre walking distance to the beach, is already making history. It is an entirely new player within the tourism landscape. The first-ever residential resort on the island offers holiday apartments for sale. The first residential leisure facility falling under a new condominium law entitling foreigners to buy property on the island. And thirdly, it implements environment-friendly wood technology still rarely used in multi-storey buildings. “Zanzibar is propelling itself into the ranks of leading timber builders all over the world with this project”, says Thomas Just, 45, owner of Volks.house, the company constructing The Soul. 

“This feels like home”

With its modern, all-white look, industrial-type black window- and door frames and many timber elements, The Soul resort will eventually consist of eleven terraced three- and-a-half storey buildings, each with about twenty apartments, making it a total of 240 fully serviced holiday apartments. Well-equipped flats with built-in-kitchens and wardrobes range in size from one-bedroom to three-bedroom. Kids get built-in bunk beds. Global nomads eco-working spaces on rooftops, kiters their surfboard garages and all globetrotters together an organic restaurant. “This already feels like home” commented some of the new owners during the opening.

Properly managed, wood is a fully renewable resource. Volks.house company, which employs more than 80 carpenters and other workers in Zanzibar, uses prefabricated timber frames for the house structure and cross-laminated timber (CLT) for the ceilings at The Soul, expert Just explained. Only the foundation and the staircases are made of concrete for stabilisation and to keep termites away. Extensive fire tests have proven the wooden structure to be as fireproof as concrete. Another huge advantage is the prefabrication which minimises constructing mishaps.

The Soul is expected to be completed by the end of next year. Only a handful of units are still available. “We were literally overrun with interest”, says Milan Heilmann, 31, the site manager. “The Soul stands for beach-life, freestyle, leisure-oriented living. Among our buyers are young entrepreneurs, surfers and people looking for a second home or an investment.” 

Apartments from $75,900

Apartment prices range from at $ 75,900 for a one-bedroom, ideal for a single or a couple, to $163,900 for a three-bedroom holiday flat. “Where in the world can you get a property near the beach for that money”, Milan Heilmann said. 

The leisure complex is the brainchild and development of CPS, a German led company also building Zanzibar’s first eco city Fumba Town near the capital, and Dutch entrepreneur Rick Viezee. The Africa veteran who first came to Zanzibar in 1959 when there was no tourism at all, is quite a popular figure in Holland, has crossed the Sahara several times and started trans-Africa overland tours in his home country, before developing one of the biggest travel agencies of the Netherlands. The 75-year old adventurer loves Paje, for him “the right place at the right time.” 

For all the partners involved in bringing The Soul to fruition, environmental solidity and community involvement play an important role, they stressed. “Green is a currency for us”, Dietzold said: “In Tanzania we need more than 300,000 new homes every year. We need to change the way we build in the future, whether in urban developments or in leisure projects.“  A growing number of holiday-makers, that’s for sure, are eager to minimise their carbon footprint. The Soul will help them.

Zanzibar is well known as a top notch destination for tourists all around the world. Paje, located on the south east coast of the island is home to a number of water sports activities, historical and cultural activities whilst also boasting kilometers of white sandy beaches and turquoise waters. 

Here are five of our favourite things to do in Paje: 

Visit the beach:

To call the scenery of the paje beaches heavenly is an understatement. The white of the sands and the clear blueness of the waters beckon to you. We love to take an afternoon off, carry a blanket, an umbrella, some drinks and the company of friends. The sight of the ocean, the various activities happening on the beach and the kitesurfers kites dressing the blue skies is just a sight not to miss.

Spice Tour:

If you know anything about the culture of Zanzibar, you will know that spices are a big part of their history. Immerse yourself in the culture of Zanzibar by joining in the spice tours, taste, smell and enjoy the lovely colors of the spices. 

Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park:

The only national park in Zanzibar, Jozani National Park boasts a big population of Red Colobus Monkeys. Additionally, this national park also hosts over 40 species of birds and 50 species of butterflies. If you are a lover of forests and all the exciting creatures to be found in there, then a trip to Jozani Park is definitely one worth taking!


Did we mention that the reefs along the Paje beaches are picturesque? If you are curious about the underwater world and the life it hosts then snorkeling is definitely an activity you want to partake in!


We wouldn't be proper fans of Paje if we did not mention kitesurfing. Paje is well known as a kitesurfer's dream destination. Whether you are a beginner, or well experienced kitesurfer, you will definitely have the time of your life on the shallow, clear blue waters of Paje. 

New hotels and restaurants, sensational tourism schemes and all that in the midst of the corona pandemic: There is a gold rush mood from Jambiani to Michamvi.

Even my favourite little 18-room makuti-roofed beach refuge changed during the Corona year. Some guests were (very discreetly though) listening to music from their portable speaker on sunbeds; young couples eagerly conversed with ever-polite waiters in all sorts of languages. Suddenly, a younger and more diverse crowd had populated the evergreen Blue Oyster Hotel in Jambiani, usually a favourite of best-ager Kili trackers – and that was only the start.

More than a dozen new hotels and hotel take-overs, construction everywhere and a first shopping mall on the roadside are changing the South-East Coast of Zanzibar. Clearly, the 22-kilometre stretch of white dream-beach dotted with fishing villages, budget and boutique accommodation and surf hotspot Paje in its centre is on the move. In the midst of the corona pandemic, when the world stood still but Zanzibar left its doors wide open, mainly Eastern Europeans, the suprise tourist of the winter season, have invested here. “We came and got stuck during Corona. Then we decided to start a business here”, is the testimony I heard most often, from small start-ups to aspiring mega-entrepreneurs, from Jambiani to Michamvi.

Jambiani suddenly feels like Kenya’s Diani Beach in its heydays in the eighties. Marta Pietkiewicz, 38, and Christian Pompetti, 44, fall into the first category. The Polish-Italian couple came on a 14-day-holiday, couldn’t leave for six months and decided to make the best of it. They terminated their chef positions in South-London to start Pompetti restaurant in Jambiani’s first mall. The rest of the shopping experience – an eco supermarket with local products, a cosmetic salon and a lawyer’s practice – is still in the making, but Pompetti with natural yeast pizza, freshly marinated sardines and excellent red wine flourished from day one. ”Hard to say how tourism will develop this year in Zanzibar”, the couple expressed amid uncertainty about the current holiday season June-August, “but we are confident.”

“More than confident” is, only a few kilometres away, also Ivan Belomorski, 33, a Bulgarian software entrepreneur, who “got stranded”, too. By the time the island re-opened one year ago in June - earlier than any other holiday destination in the world - “we got our property”, he tells me proudly. It’s a prime piece of beachfront right in the centre of surf hotspot Paje. The Nest, scheduled to open this month, consists of an extravagant wooden 3-storey vegan restaurant in the design of a safari lodge combined with 17 barefoot luxury bungalows. “All workers and all our materials are local”, emphasizes Ivan, a man of big plans and high expectations: “We found them in Arusha and brought them here.” A jungle gym features weight lifting with coconuts. And if all that is not enough he plans a 60-metre wooden beach tower with dinner platforms high above the Indian Ocean. Is he sure, tourists will keep on flocking although the Covid-19 situation is all but resolved? “Whatever we put on the market, gets immediately booked,” Ivan Belomorski claims - at prices between $300 and $800 per night. 

“We never had a better season, an incredible turnover”, confirms hotelier Leonie Kaack on the other end of the tourism scale. The 35 year old co-owns New Teddy’s on the Beach, a legendary backpacker resort at the south end of Jambiani with dorm beds starting at $20.

“It’s a gold digger atmosphere here”, says the mother of two says who is married in Zanzibar and has lived here for five years. A Russian holidaymaker from Leningrad knows about his fellow travellers: “Eastern Europeans may arrive on 6oo-dollars-package tours but with 60,000 dollars in their accounts”. Many invested  - and changed the atmosphere in Zanzibar. “We’ve seen much more children and families around”, noticed Leonie Kaack. Another trickle-down effect: “East Europeans explore local villages because they like to bargain.” 

By far the biggest and controversial investor is Pili Pili (Swahili for hot pepper), a polish enterprise under Wojtek Zabinski, who arrived from Danzig four years ago on a private holiday and bought a small beach house. Since the start of the pandemic he has accumulated 11 hotels along the beach from Jambiani to Bweeju: “We built, buy or lease”, explains Pili Pili spokesperson and Vice-President Przemyslaw Staniszewski who meets me in shorts and T-shirt. The biggest endeavour of the newcomers in tourism has just started, the construction of an oriental holiday estate with 96 beach villa apartments in at sleepy beach of Bweeju – each for around $200,000. 

Guests listen to Pili Pili radio, pay with Pili Pili money and more than 40.000 of them follow Pili Pili Zanzibar on facebook. While some observers wonder how the fast ascent has been possible, Stanizeweski dispels any doubt: “Our only secret is that we know our guests very well and look after them”, from chartering airplanes to providing children buggies upon arrival in the tropical paradise. “Polish in Zanzibar form a community, they are very family oriented”, he says. Staniszewski is optimistic; “We will soon provide 1500 beds in here.” 

Does the island want that? Especially the East Coast was known for individual holidays, not for mass and charter tourism”, says Leonie Kaack with concern. Others say, Zanzibar is big enough for all kind of tourism and 75,000 jobs depend on it. Meanwhile a water truck can be seen every day at five pm delivering drinking water to villagers near Michamwi. Patiently they wait with jerry cans for the truck to arrive. The pools may be full at the booming East Coast, but only half of the local population has yet access to piped fresh water. 

Almost singlehandedly Rahim M. Bhaloo revived the ailing sugar industry in Zanzibar. He now produces 8,500 tons of the “white gold” per year - and could do much more.

It’s 11 o’clock in the morning and all the machinery running smoothly when we enter the sugar cane mill in Mahonda. Huge processing buildings in white and blue stand out against a greyish sky on the property. Inside the factory halls, a labyrinth of colourfully painted machinery awaits us: yellow, red and light green pipes, centrifuges, fennels, boilers and transport belts – everything needed to process bulky sugar cane sticks into the finest brown natural sugar. When Rahim M. Bhaloo, a well-reputed Zanzibar-born entrepreneur, known to most as the owner of Multi-Color Printers in Mtoni, took over as the Resident Director of the island’s only existing sugar factory two and a half years ago, the “Zanzibar Sugar Factory Ltd.” (ZSFL) was ailing. “Now we see a lot of prospects”, 49-year-old Bhaloo says. The sugar factory in itself is a sweet promise. It stands for the possible divergence of the Zanzibar economy  - from a mono-cultural tourism hub to a diversified economy.

Today, ZSFL employs almost 700 workers on the factory site and in the sugarcane fields in the north of Zanzibar. “If the sugar industry here were to be fully established and sugarcane considered a strategic crop like in many other countries, we could create jobs for 10,000 people”, the resident director forecasts. 

With sugarcane being regarded one of the most significant and efficient sources of biomass for biofuel production, the entire sugar factory runs on its own generated energy – no external electricity is required at the time of production. “At full capacity we could contribute as much as seven megawatts into the local grid”, Bhaloo says.

Caramel smell in the air

The caramellish smell of molasses lingers in the air. “A sugar factory does not only produce sugar”, Bhaloo explains to me, “molasses, biomass energy, alcoholic spirits and barges are by-products”. Molasses can be used as cow feed. “In Brazil, the spirit production is sometimes a larger business than the sugar itself”, the director adds with a smile. 

A huge, naïve painting decorates the humble boardroom of the mill, telling the story of its origins: In 1972 Zanzibar’s first president Abeid Amani Karume invited the Chinese to built the factory. By 1977 it was running well. By 1982 the business had collapsed and remained closed until 2003 when Indian businessman Mahesh Patel, a specialist in agro-farming, together with managing director Vicky Patel took to the challenge of rescuing it. So far, the investor who became the chairman of ZSFL has channelled more than 40 million dollar into the sugar business on the island. Step by step the local production was brought back to life, from 185 tons in 2015 to 8,500 tons in 2019, before the onset of the corona pandemic. “We have recently more than doubled our daily production capacity”, says Rahim Bhaloo, “but we could actually produce much more”. The problem: “We lack land to grow sugarcane. We were promised double the land we are cultivating now. We have high hopes on the new government.”  Only with more farming land, the factory - still writing red figures - could eventually run sustainably. 

It’s a lush, green paradise. The bamboo-like sugarcane crop with its green leafs stands tall in Zanzibar’s “feeding basket” zone of Upenja all the way to Kilombero and Bambi, right in the middle of the island. Around 3,300 acres are utilised to grow sugarcane; it’s harvested twice per year. Another 500 acres are cultivated by 800 farming families,  trained and technically supported by ZSFL and better known as “outgrowers” within the industry. The equation is straightforward: “To fulfill the local demand of Zanzibar, “three to four times as much sugarcane should be planted here”, director Bhaloo says. “Then we would no longer rely on imports from Brazil or any other country”. Increased production would lower the price, too. In Zanzibar, at the moment, to process a ton of sugar costs $750; on the international market it’s $350-$400. Not everything is sweet about sugar. A lot of processed food such as ketchup, pizza and juice  contains hidden sugar, which in the long run causes obesity and diabetes. Nutritionists recommend no more than 25-50 grams sugar intake per day.

More jobs for the island

While we walk alongside the green field near Kiwengwa, Bhaloo, wearing a blue jeans and a plaid cowboy shirt, says: “I am sure we can create many more jobs for Zanzibar.” Back in the factory, I watch the huge machinery first swallowing the sugarcane sticks and extracting the juice. By heating up the syrup it crystallises and from a centrifuge above our heads it suddenly starts “raining sugar”. A transport belt brings the light-brown, high-quality organic sweetener into wooden basins from where it is dried and packed. The factory’s general manager Rajesh Kumar Dodla, 50, carefully watches the entire process. And before we say good-bye, Rahim Bhaloo sums it all up: “The white gold, as sugar is sometimes called, has yet to be fully discovered, explored and utilised in Zanzibar.”


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