Buoyed by a strong balance sheet and a reduced cost of doing business, East African Portland Cement Company (EAPCC) has signed a joint venture with Rwanda’s Kigali Cement Company. Under the arrangement, EAPCC will acquire a 60 per cent stake in the company, before setting up a cement milling plant in Kigali. Currently, the firm controls 40 per cent of Rwanda’s cement market, making it an attractive bid for EAPCC.
EAPCC managing director Zakayo Ole Mapelo said the company is seeking to become the leading cement manufacturer in East and Central Africa, hence its expansion to Rwanda and Sudan. The Kigali plant will cut transportation costs to Rwanda, besides giving EAPCC a foothold in the heart of Central Africa.
“There is a lot of potential in the Rwanda and Congo market because of the need to reconstruct these countries, following the civil war in both countries,” Mapelu said. He said the Kigali Cement Company was a strategic investment that will provide employment opportunities for both Kenyans and Rwandese nationals. Mapelu said the solution to rising unemployment levels in Kenya lies in expansion, and underscored the need to look beyond Kenya’s borders for opportunities.
He said Kenya had what it takes to become an economic powerhouse within the continent and said time had come for the country to embrace challenges facing the economy head on. To achieve this, the country must fix its wanting infrastructure, address the high cost of doing business by reducing the cost of fuel pump prices.
Last week Mapelu said Kenya was losing its comparative advantage to Southern Sudan due to infrastructural constraints. Consequently, Ugandan investors are reaping from the peaceful Sudan talks brokered by Kenya for years, leaving Kenyan counterparts chasing the spoils. This has been attributed to failure by the government to improve or tarmac the Lokichogio to Juba road, the commercial capital of Southern Sudan. The road is currently not only impassable but also infested by bandits allied to the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) of Uganda. And while the Kenya Government continued brokering peace among warring communities in Sudan, pitting the Northerners and the Southerners, Uganda was busy tarmacking the Uganda to Juba road.