Cemtech Middle East & Africa 2015 opened at the Grand Hyatt Dubai, UAE, today with over 270 participants for a two-day conference covering the worldwide cement industry and manufacturing technology.
Opening the meeting, Thomas Armstrong, managing editor of International Cement Review, provided an overview of the main themes facing the cement sector, particularly noting the expansion in global growth – which is expected to edge ahead by four per cent in 2015 – and the plunge in oil prices as two primary indicators for favourable growth in the year ahead.
While the impact of falling oil prices will have a broadly positive effect on cement producers from countries that depend on energy imports, producers in the Gulf and other regions will experience some negative impact on demand: “In the major oil-exporting economies, notably in the GCC, lower oil prices will result in reduced revenues for governments whose budgets will have to be tightened. Expenditure on public construction and infrastructure development will inevitably be trimmed, resulting in more modest cement consumption trends," he said.
Speaking next, Hettish Karmani of Global Investment House (Kuwait) argued that while the impact of the oil crash will be to push GCC government budgets into deficit in 2015, all countries in the region should be able to weather the crisis by relying on accumulated reserves. Meanwhile, oil prices are expected to recover strongly over the next two years to US$80 per barrel, a level that is considered sustainable in the long term.
Crucially for the cement industry in the GCC, construction activity will be largely protected by governments keen to proceed with long-term development plans, which also support efforts to diversify their economies away from oil dependence in the long term.
Echoing this analysis, Harpreet Duggal of Black Rock Cement (UAE) argued that the biggest downside risk to future growth will be investor sentiment in the real estate sector, rather than the fundamental impact of the oil price crash on the domestic economy.
Cemtech MEA2015 continues with keynote presentations from Tony Hadley, Baobab Advisory (France) and former CEO of Dangote Cement (Nigeria) and contributions from Guinea Industries Ciments (Guinea), DG Khan (Pakistan), Messebo Cement (Ethiopia) and many more.
A large exhibition accompanies the meeting, featuring many of the leading equipment suppliers active in the region and serving the international cement industry.