Cement shortage looms in eastern Africa

Published 03 October 2005

An acute shortage of cement is looming in eastern Africa following the return of peace in Sudan and the easy calm in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which has sparked a vibrant economic environment, cement producers said here Friday.

The increased cement consumption from the construction industry in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, southern Sudan and Madagascar have spurred growth and increased demand in the region, coupled with the extension of public utilities in the Middle East, they said.

"There is a likelihood of a shortage of cement. Kenya is exporting cement to the region and the market has been growing," said Pradeep Paunrana, the managing director of the Athi River Mining limited, a company seeking to raise funds to expand its cement production.

Athi River Mining, one of the firms producing cement for export in the region, whose export market demand had been muted by the war in the DRC, the political uncertainty in Sudan and the economic sluggishness in Kenya, says it plans to expand its grinding plant.

The firm is seeking to raise 800 million shillings (about US$11 million) from the capital markets in Kenya to finance the expansion of its production base to meet the new demand in the market.

"The market demand is growing at 15 percent per year. We think we would be able to grow and increase our production by 200,000t, this is 7-8 per cent of our entire production capacity, which adds up to 2.5Mta," he said.