East African Portland Cement Company (EAPCC) is asking the government to reduce its stake in the firm to below half in a move that will remove state restrictions on its operations in Kenya’s competitive cement market.
The cement maker says its compliance with state rules, especially on procurement, was blunting its competitive edge at a time when its rivals like Bamburi Cement and Athi River Mining (ARM) are not shackled by bureaucratic regulations, allowing them to make decisions fast.
The government owns 25 per cent of Portland while the state controlled National Social Security Fund (NSSF) controls 27 per cent—which combined make the company a state-owned company.
“I would like to emphasise that part of the problem with the running of EAPCC involves the restrictions we operate under, specifically the Public Procurement Act and the State Corporations Act,” said Mr Kephar Tande, the firm’s managing director.
“The government should allow Portland to operate like a strictly commercial enterprise and this can be achieved by reducing both the government’s own and the NSSF shareholding to below 51 per cent.”
The reduction of the government’s interest in the firm through the Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE) has been on the cards in the past six years and the Privatisation Commission says it is still working on the offer.