The government of Malawi has urged private firms to bring more cement into the country to alleviate shortages of the commodity, caused by reduced supplies of clinker from Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe is the major supplier of clinker to Malawi’s giant cement producer, Lafarge Portland, but the company is failing to source enough clinker needed for cement production owing to the economic crisis in the former country.
Malawi’s Minister of Transport and Public Works, Henry Mussa, says the shortage of cement has resulted in delays in the completion of a number of projects, mostly those being implemented by government.
“In a liberalised economic set-up, it is the private sector which is supposed to [deal with] the challenge of cement shortages and meet the demand. “We would, therefore, like to inform the private sector that we have removed all the restrictions on the importation of cement, as we want more cement in the country,” he says.
The government of Malawi imposed restrictions on the importation of cement following complaints raised by the country’s two cement producers – La Farge Portland and Shayona Cement – that they were experiencing unfair competition from importers, who were bringing in cheap cement from Zimbabwe.
Mussa says government has now removed the restrictions because the local producers are failing to meet demand owing to low supplies of clinker from Zimbabwe – a result of the prevailing economic situation in that country.
The projects that are being affected by the shortage of cement include the construction of houses for the Malawi Defence Force, the construction of the National Bank of Malawi’s new headquarters and the rehabilitation of several roads in the country, which is being carried out with funding from the European Union and several international financiers.
Lafarge Portland has now started importing clinker from Thailand in order to meet its production shortfall.