Cheetah Cement project in jeopardy, Namibia

Cheetah Cement project in jeopardy, Namibia
Published: 20 January 2010

The first cement production project in Namibia ever to hit the headlines after independence, Cheetah Cement, is about to fall through as partners have, up to now, failed to raise the necessary capital to bring the project on-stream.

The two Namibian businessmen behind Cheetah Cement are frustrated and accuse local financial institutions and authorities of “supporting foreign [owned projects] while neglecting local businesspeople”, according to reports from New Era.

Local businessmen, Peter Mbutu and Zedekias //Gowaseb hit the headlines in 2004 with the announcement to revive the cement production plant at Otjiwarongo, as well as Namibia’s first cement war price in the country that followed soon after.

So far, their company Whale Rock Cement Company, which is supposed to develop Cheetah Cement, has gone through various joint venture relationships, having ditched the first partner, a Brazilian cement manufacturing company, for a Chinese state-owned company.

Whale Rock’s Mbutu told New Era that they are almost giving up because of delays in securing required funds to develop Cheetah Cement project at farm Cleveland in Otjiwarongo.

“We have almost given up. We are still waiting on the Development Bank of Namibia for the response on our application for funding,” says Mbutu.

Whale Rock has requested N$120m from the Development Bank of Namibia and Mbutu says the development bank is mum on whether it would grant the loan or not.

“It seems there is so much support for [foreign-backed projects] while locals are not supported,” says Mbutu.

The Development Bank of Namibia (DBN), when approached for comment, says Whale Rock submitted the application in September 2009 and hence due diligence in considering the application.