Imported cement worries local producers, East Africa

Imported cement worries local producers, East Africa
Published: 26 August 2009

Cement manufactured in East African countries may soon be pushed out of the market if regulators don’t control the rate at which low-priced imported cement is coming into the region, according to local producers.

In a joint press release issued last week, cement manufacturers called on governments to review trade policies in accordance with the global slowdown that has affected industries. This will help protect local industries, which are on the verge of collapse following an increase in imported cheap cement into the region.

They said foreign brands threaten the survival of local industries, which if not dealt with immediately, would cause market distortions.

"We have a choice of either helping our industries to become competitive or opening the markets and destroying what has taken many years to build," said Mr David Njoroge, Hima Cement general manager.

Mr Njoroge said though the cement imports in Uganda were still at a smaller scale, the situation was grim in Tanzania where two of companies have suspended production.

They attributed the high cost of local brands to high energy costs, poor road and rail infrastructure, low protectionist tax regimes and lack of government subsidies that make it difficult for the local industry to compete favourably at a global level.