The Egyptian cement industry is likely to be affected by the ongoing political turmoil which has seen government protesters taking to the streets across the country calling for President Hosni Mubarak to step down.
Lafarge has organised the return of approximately 30 of its Cairo-based expatriates and their families, involving around 100 people in all. The decision was taken “as a measure of prudence and in the interest of the families”, the company stated in a press release. Lafarge does not expect this evacuation to have any major impact on its operations in the country: “The decision is temporary. It concerns less than half of Lafarge’s expatriates in Cairo, and a very small proportion of Lafarge’s management in Egypt.”
Local cement producer, Misr Cement (Qena), told CemNet their factory is open and production is continuing. However, Mr Sherif Samir, an official of Safe Trading Company of Egypt, a leading cement exporter and agent for cement producers, informed us that business activities were on hold and export/dispatches of cement have been disrupted due the ongoing political unrest. Import and export of other commodities have also been partially affected. The company, which exports Egyptian cement to Sudan, Syria, Jordan, expressed hope that the situation will stabilise in the coming days but accepted that it was impossible to say when normal business will resume.
Currently, the local cement sector consists of 15 cement companies, of which nine are controlled by six multinationals, who entered the Egyptian market mainly through the privatisation of the state-owned cement companies, which started in 1996. Total domestic capacity reached 50.1Mt in 2010. Seven new licenses, amounting to 10.5Mta new capacity, have been approved by the government and are now under development.