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TimePosted 04/08/2017 08:49:48

Should African countries ban cement imports?

Historically, the cement consumer in sub-Saharan Africa was poorly served. Inadequate local production capacity, irregular imports and exorbitant local transportation costs resulted in a highly unsatisfactory supply of cement to the market. Prices were high, regularly in excess of US$200/t, and much higher for inland markets located far from the ports or production centres.

But times have changed and across sub-Saharan Africa the surge in new capacity investment over the last five years has transformed the industry. Local capacity additions, mainly consisting of grinding plants, and improved local transportation infrastructure are ensuring a more reliable and affordable supply of cement to the consumer.

As the region moves further towards self-sufficiency, many of these investors are now seeking to protect their assets and cement producers are frequently reported lobbying national governments to rein in cement imports. Cement companies in DR Congo, Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana have all recently lobbied for higher tariffs on cement imports and, in some cases, complete bans. But is this call for state intervention justified, or should market forces be left to run their course?

Thomas Armstrong, Managing Editor of International Cement Review, discusses the issue in relation to Gabon during a recent interview with the BBC World Service.

Click here to listen [Fast forward to 8min 50 secs]

Note: Ciments de L’Afrique (CIMAF) acquired Cimgabon from HeidelbergCement in 2014 and opened the new 0.5Mta grinding plant at Owendo in July 2016. Further reading:  Gabon moves towards self-sufficiency

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