Algerian cement production rose 17.3 percent to 5.37 million tonnes in the first six months of 2004 year-on-year, an official said on Saturday, to meet booming building demand and reduce its dependence on imports. "Right now we do not have problems of shortage," an Industry Ministry official, who declined to be named, told Reuters.
The lack of cement has been a major hurdle in addressing the booming housing and construction market as authorities race to build more than one million homes over coming years. It remains to be seen whether the sharp increase will continue in the second half of the year and bring Algeria closer to meeting its annual demand of 12 million tonnes.
Domestic capacity has traditionally stood at eight million tonnes while production has been limited at 4.5 million due to poor equipment. But new investments should boost output.
"The private sector produced 901,242t and the state sector produced 4.467,991t during the first six months of 2004," the official said, without giving comparison figures.
Foreign firms Switzerland’s Holcim and Egypt’s Orascom Construction Industries have already invested respectively $180 million and $450 million to boost output in the North African country.
The official said Algeria imported 910,797 tonnes, with almost half of it grey cement, in the January-June period. No comparison figures were available.