The long-awaited Cheetah Cement Factory, a multi-million-dollar project which should see Namibia produce its own cement for the first time, was launched at Otjiwarongo yesterday.
The project is a joint venture between the Otjiwarongo municipality, local company Whale Rock Cement, and Chinese investors Beijing Vibroflotation Engineering.
The Chinese company recently joined the venture after previous investor Cimento Tupi (CP Cement), a Brazilian company, pulled out.
Otjiwarongo mayor Otto Ipinge yesterday attributed the withdrawal of the Brazilian company to the length of time it took to acquire all the necessary approval for the venture to become a reality.
Among the requirements were the completion of market research, a feasibility study, and an environmental impact study.
The last of these was completed in June last year, Trade and Industry Minister Immanuel Ngatjizeko said.
The total projected capital investment in the project was given as U$66 million.
In 2005, Cheetah Cement started operation in Namibia by selling imported cement from Brazil, but faced heavy competition from South African veteran competitor Holcim, which was able to undercut Cheetah’s prices drastically.
In October 2005 for example, Holcim reduced its price for a 50 kg bag of cement from N$54 to N$26.
Cheetah MD Zedekias Gowaseb said that they were not in a position to drop their prices below N$30, and the company continues to face strong competition.