Cement Shortage ’Temporary’, Kenya

Cement Shortage ’Temporary’, Kenya
Published: 18 October 2006

Kenya is experiencing a cement shortage due to a surge in demand following factory closures for maintenance, local producers said.
As a result, the price of a 50-kg bag of cement has gone up by about Sh100 to Sh650. 
The country’s three manufacturers - Bamburi Cement, East African Portland Cement and Athi River Mining - said the situation was temporary and would be resolved by next month. 
EAPCC and ARM factories producing clinker were closed for maintenance in July and August leading to a shortfall. The producers said they would be forced to import clinker from India and Thailand. Clinker production shortfalls have long held back the cement industry. 
"What has been happening is a shrinkage in supply on the one hand and an increase in demand on the other," Mr Michel Puchercos, Bamburi’s managing director, told a media conference in Nairobi. "Who could tell in January... (that demand in) the second half would be very strong? If we had known September, October would have been so good, we would have built stocks at that time because we had capacity." 
The three companies can put out about 2.4Mt of cement a year, 800,000 more than Kenya usually needs, Puchercos said on behalf of the East African Cement Producers Association. 
Last year, cement consumption rose by 10.9 per cent to 1.57Mt.
Demand in the first half of the year was quiet due to a drought followed by a three-month rainy season, but rose 10 per cent in the third quarter, just as factories were closing down kilns for routine repairs. 
"If you face a very strong surge in the market on one hand and normal maintenance on the other, then for a couple of weeks you may face something that looks like a shortage," Puchercos added. 
One other factor contributing to the shortage is a delay in the running of a new kiln at Athi River mining. 
Puchercos ruled out importing cement from Uganda to address the shortage. The producers denied reports they were exporting to southern Sudan and South Africa.