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Cement sector has excess capacity: Lafarge

By Oliver Kazunga

Zimbabwe’s cement industry has excess capacity to meet the 1,3 million tonnes annual domestic demand as the sector has an installed capacity of 2,4 million tonnes, an official has said.

French cement firm LaFarge
French cement firm LaFarge operates in Zimbabwe

Last month the market experienced cement shortage, which the country’s largest cement producer, PPC Zimbabwe, attributed to annual maintenance works at its factories in Harare and Bulawayo.

As a result of the temporary shortage some hardware shops, despite the improvement in cement supply, increased the price of the commodity from $11 for a 50 kilogramme to $15 depending on the brand. Lafarge Cement Zimbabwe commercial director Edith Matekaire said the sector has enough capacity.

“The current installed capacity in the cement industry still sits at around 2,4 million tonnes. The demand today is only 1,3 million, so there is excess capacity . . . so, and why are we currently having the shortage.

“Today what we are experiencing are issues to do with forex in relation to our ability to maintain and keep our production running at optimum capacity,” she said.

Ms Matekaire said her organisation was sitting in excess of $2 million backlog of forex required by the cement producer to maintain its plant.

“What this therefore means is that we have delays in kiln shut-downs. Normally these have to happen at specific time otherwise if they happen during the peak period this is when we will begin to experience the shortage that we have.

“And if the forex is available, the delays in the forex allocations result in critical shut downs, which today you can see have impacted on the supply of cement,” she said.

The sector is dominated by three major players, PPC Zimbabwe, Lafarge Cement Zimbabwe and Sino-Zimbabwe Cement. Ms Matekaire said in light of the micro and macro-economic challenges facing the cement industry, beyond 2020 the local cement industry would begin to run out of capacity.

“I have no doubt that it is time to act now. We can see that our (cement industry) projections in real demand will need additional capacity,” she said. The Herald.

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