Cement production keeps pace with growing demand

Engineers at a cement production factory.
Engineers at a cement production factory. PHOTO/FILE
Kenyan cement producers are racing to meet the rising demand for the construction commodity on the back of enhanced expenditure in mega infrastructure projects.

According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), cement production stood at 5.88 million tonnes last year, a 16 per cent growth from 5.01 million tonnes produced the previous year.

The local market consumed 5.19 million tonnes of cement in 2014 compared to 4.6 million tonnes in 2013 – representing a 22 per cent growth.

The speedy growth in production and consumption is expected to continue in 2015 based on the official statistics for the first five months of the year.

The KNBS said last week that the amount of cement produced between January and June rose to 3.04 million tonnes from 2.77 million over a similar period of 2014.

The amount of cement consumed, said KNBS, also rose to 2.72 million tonnes over the six months to June compared to 2.48 million the previous year.

Surplus cement is imported to neighbouring countries that are also implementing massive infrastructure projects amid rapid economic growth.

The rapid growth in the sector has been attributed to the execution of ambitious transport and energy projects as well as a rising urban population that continues to fuel demand for housing.

“This is normal for a fast-growing economy due to infrastructure development, increased housing demand and rapid urbanisation,” ARM Cement managing director Pradeep Paunrana said in a recent interview.

But despite the government’s pledge to use 40 per cent of local building materials in its projects, local cement producers have accused some contractors of favouring imported cement over the local commodity.

The firms recently accused China Road & Bridge Corp – the company building the standard gauge railway – of being opaque and trying to withhold information from public about their local procurement plans.

CRBC defended itself over the accusations saying that five months into the project it had purchased 150,000 tonnes of cement from local manufacturers and it anticipated the volume would rise in coming months.

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