Chinese imports into Kenya show 10-fold rise

Chinese imports into Kenya show 10-fold rise
Published: 12 September 2016


New figures from the Kenyan National Bureau of Statistics reveal that the country imported KES2.2bn (US$21.7m) of cement from China in the first six months of 2016, up more than ten-fold on last year.

A report by Business Daily Africa notes that these latest data look set to increase tension between Kenyan producers and Chinese contractors working on some of the country’s biggest infrastructure projects.

The Chinese building firms have repeatedly denied claims that they import cement and other raw materials, maintaining that construction materials are sourced locally. The new figures throw this version of events into doubt and will provoke hostility from Kenyan firms at a time of falling cement prices – they are down by almost 10 per cent on their 2008 peak – and output rising.

In the first half of 2016, Kenyan cement output reached 3.2Mt, up by 4.1 per cent on the same period in 2015. Perhaps stimulated by the lower prices, demand grew even more quickly – by 7.4 per cent – to reach 3Mt.

The country is on course to see consumption reach 6Mt in 2016, but with domestic capacity in excess of 8Mta, Kenya's cement industry is able to meet this demand. However, imports are rising, with Dangote stating that it has begun to ship cement from its plant in Ethiopia to northern Kenya. With the company also planning to enter the Kenyan market directly in 2019 with a 3Mta plant, it is envisaged that competition will only intensify.