Cement makers urged to embrace innovative ways to stay competitive
Cimerwa cement is struggling to compete with cement imported from the region. At the recently–ended 8th Africa Cement Trade Summit organised
by CMT and the Ministry of Infrastructure, speakers said cement producers must embrace innovative approaches and technology to make their products more accessible and affordable.
Seelan Gobalsamy from Singapore’s Centre for Management Technology (CMT) noted that cement makers need to embrace innovative means of production because the industry is capital intensive and requires a lot of energy.
Njambo Lekula, the MD for international operations at Pretoria Portland Cement (PPC) Limited, said the growing demand of infrastructure on the continent is an opportunity for sector players to increase production. He said this will require strong public and private sector partnerships. PPC, listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, is majority shareholder in Cimerwa.
James Musoni, Rwanda’s Minister for Infrastructure, said embracing efficient energy options is critical to support the cement industry. “Cement is (arguably) on the top of the list for resources needed during the development of infrastructure projects.
The good news is that cement and concrete industries in Africa are the main sources of materials required to implement infrastructure projects on the continent,” Musoni said.
Though cement demand in Africa remains high, production capacity is low, and most African countries are heavily dependent on cement imports, the minister observed, adding that this calls for mechanisms to bridge the gap.
Meanwhile, sector players want more done to protect the industry from cheap imports so they stay competitive.
Patrick Mugenyi, the general manager of Hima Cement, says establishing a strong and harmonised regional policy could help protect local manufacturers from competition, especially from cheap imports. He is optimistic that the entry of South Sudan into the EAC trade bloc presents industrialists more opportunities.
Busisiwe Legodi, the Cimerwa chief executive officer, said affordable power will enable sector players to save and become competitive.
“We import most of the raw materials, including gypsum and coal, which makes business expensive. We are, therefore, positive that embracing innovative technologies will help bring down the cost of production,” Legodi, said.