World’s largest chemical maker BASF opens factory in Kenya

BASF VP Dick Purchase.
BASF VP Dick Purchase speaks during the launch of the plant in Mavoko on Aug 27, 2014. PHOTO/CBR
BASF, the world’s biggest chemicals maker by sales, has opened a Sh1.2 billion plant for concrete admixtures in Kenya as it seeks to capitalise on the ongoing infrastructure projects in the East African region.

The facility, which is located on Mombasa Road, is BASF’s first chemical plant in East Africa. It will enable the German chemicals group to better meet the increasing demand for construction chemicals in the region.

The Frankfurt Stock Exchange-listed firm offers chemical solutions for construction, maintenance, repair and renovation of structures among them concrete admixtures, and cement additives.

Concrete admixtures are used primarily to reduce the cost of concrete construction; to modify the properties of hardened concrete; and to ensure the quality of concrete during mixing, placing, and curing.

Dick Purchase, BASF vice-president in charge of construction and chemical division for Africa, Middle East, Turkey and Russia, said the new plant will help the company to increase efficiency while lowering costs.

“There are many advantages that will come along with establishment of a local plant but it is impossible to outline how much we are going to save given we have cut reliance on imported finished products,” he said.

The company, which opened its Nairobi office in 2011, has served the regional market for more than 25 years mainly by importing construction chemicals from its headquarters in Germany.

BASF group country manager Graham Dean said: “It takes a month to get material from Dubai to Nairobi, it takes six weeks to get material down to Dar es Salaam and eight weeks to go to Kampala; by having a factory here in Nairobi we will reduce this down to days.”

BASF joins a growing list of foreign companies that have expanded to Kenya in a bid to capitalise on the country’s booming construction industry.

India’s largest construction chemicals maker Pidilite Industries announced in January that it was aggressively marketing its range of adhesives in Kenya in effort to establish a regional presence.

READ: Indian firm eyes Kenya’s construction boom

South Korean steel roof tile maker Feroof is also setting up a plant in Kenya to tap into the country’s booming housing sector (Read story).