Hima Cement production is set to double once its ongoing expansion programme ends early next year.
General Manager David Njoroge said in a statement that the new plant’s capacity will increase from the current 350,000t to over 830,000t of cement. It is expected that this quantity will be "enough" to meet local and export demand.
The development is good news to Uganda’s economy whose construction industry - the current drive in GDP growth - has been hit by shortage of construction materials especially cement. The Hima Cement statement said the new expanded plant will be commissioned in January 2010 as planned.
In recent months Uganda was forced to import cement from the neighbouring countries due to shortages of lime attributed to lime exhaustion at the Kasese mine and erratic power supply but, with a move to Dura project the situation is expected to be contained. "The biggest benefit is going to be a drop in the price of cement in real terms once the supply has improved and stabilized," Mr Njoroge said. Other benefits will be reflected in increased direct and indirect employment, the government revenues will increase and use of inputs.
At the moment Hima cement is among the top tax-payers in Uganda with annual wage bill over Shs4.2 billion, annual electricity bill at Shs6.6 billion and the raw materials expenses is over Shs30.6 billion, all these will increase with the doubling capacity.
Hima Cement has injected $108 million in the expansion construction alone
Mr Njoroge said the new plant will be within the global environmental standards for stack emissions. "Hima Cement which is part of the Lafarge Group has a very strong tradition in environmental conservation and particularly the rehabilitation of quarries in their operations worldwide," he said.
He cited the example of Haller Park in Mombasa which was previously a quarry but was rehabilitated by Bamburi Cement to become an internationally acclaimed park with rare flora and fauna that attract thousands of tourism. And this year alone the company launched the green schools project which aims at teaching school children to care for the environment.
Mr Njoroge though complained of the constant power outages that have led to increasing production costs and hence the price of cement in the market. "The quality and quantity of power has always been a challenge to us because the supply is very unstable. We have had to buy a generator worth US$1.8m and are making an additional investment of $1.15 million in a gas conditioning tower all because of the erratic power supply."