Ethiopia to join Africa's big league

Ethiopia to join Africa's big league
09 February 2024

Next month, the first phase of an extra 7.5Mta of cement capacity will be commissioned in Ethiopia. Expected to cover more than 50 per cent of national cement demand and bridge the country's demand-supply gap, along with the Melka Jebdu cement plant project, the Lemi cement plant is set to transform Ethiopia's cement sector overnight.

Located on a 27ha plot in Lemi Building Materials Industrial Park, 140km north of Addis Ababa in the Amhara region, the Lemi plant project is a part of a US$2.2bn multi-phase joint venture between the National Cement Co (owned by East African Holding) and West International Holding (West China Cement Ltd). The first phase of the National West International Holding (NWIH) Building Materials Holding Co is the construction of the US$600m cement plant by Sinoma (Suzhou) Construction Co of China. The new plant will have a clinker and cement capacity of 10,000tpd and 4.5Mta, respectively.

In addition to the cement plant, the building materials complex will host a 30Mm2 gypsum board plant and a 0.4Mta gypsum powder plant, a concrete pole facility, prefabricated housing, a Colbert pipe plant, a batching plant, an aggregate production plant and two steel lines with 0.7Mta capacity at Dire Dawa.

Melka-Jebdu cement project
Sinoma and NWIH also signed an agreement in April 2023 to build a 3Mta greenfield cement plant in the Melka Jebdu Industrial Park, 19km west of Dire Dawa. In addition, the 106ha plot will feature a prefabricated concrete plant and a lime facility. "Upon completion, the Melka-Jebdu Industrial Park will be able to produce 6000t of cement and another 1000t of lime per day as well as 700,000t of metals per year," said Dr Buzuayehu Tadele Bizenu, chairman of NWIH and East African Holding.

The US$243m Melka Jebdu cement plant is expected to be commissioned in 2025 and will be well placed for exports. "We selected the area due to its competitive advantage for the export market and it also has enormous quality resources for cement production. Melka Jebdu is connected with the Ethio-Djibouti railway line and it is close for ports in Djibouti and Berbera," said Dr Bizenu.

Chinese investment to claim the top spot
Ethiopia's cement market has largely been made up of local cement producers and small Chinese plants. The arrival of Dangote Cement's 2.5Mta cement plant in the Mugher Valley in 2015 rivalled the local companies. Now Dangote and other producers may respond to the challenge thrown down by these two new Chinese-built mega factories, while some smaller producers may be eased out of the market. The Global Cement Report™ 15th Edition (GCR15) reported that Dangote has been considering a 5Mta expansion of its Ethiopian cement plant. But by aligning with West China Cement and adding 7.5Mta of cement capacity to the country's current 23.74Mta, National Cement Co is now expected to take a commanding position in this market. Moreover, as China throws the gauntlet to the country's current major players, Ethiopia is well on its way to entering Africa's big league for cement production.

Published under Cement News