Morocco’s cement market is likely to grow slightly this year as state-backed social housing projects offset delays and cancellations in commercial real estate, the local subsidiary of Lafarge said.
Morocco experienced a construction boom in recent years as the government built new roads, rails and ports and drew record foreign investment in hotels and resorts to cater for growing numbers of tourists.
Inward investment has tumbled since mid 2008, clouding the outlook for cement companies like Lafarge Ciments well as its rivals Ciments du Maroc and Holcim Maroc, which all invested heavily to keep pace with demand.
"We think ... there will be a small rise in cement demand in 2009 because the fundamentals of the Moroccan economy are solid and there is a strong need for housing," Lafarge Ciments Managing Director Jean-Marie Schmitz said late on Wednesday.
He said the company would always invest if demand grows, but the company already had the capacity to respond to any pick-up in the market thanks to a new production line due to open in the northern city of Tetouan in May.
Schmitz said Morocco’s fastest-growing regional cement market was once the north but was now the area around Casablanca, after some major public works projects in the north ended and real estate projects had not yet found buyers.
Morocco’s cement market grew 15.7 per cent from January to July 2008 and then by only 1.5 per cent for the rest of the year, giving annual growth of 9.9 per cent, Lafarge Ciments said.