South African firm to open concrete admixtures plant in Kenya

Workers mix concrete at a construction site.
Workers mix concrete at a construction site. PHOTE/FILE
A South African chemicals firm is planning to set up a concrete and cement additives plant in Kenya as it seeks to cash in on the ongoing construction boom in the country.

Chryso Southern Africa Group, which recently opened an office in Nairobi, says that its decision to expand its operations is informed by the increasing demand for construction chemicals in East Africa thanks to the huge infrastructure projects being undertaken across the region.

“Kenya has shown impressive sales growth for the group over the past nine years, so it made good business sense to solidify our presence in the country,” says Trevor Sawyer, the country manager for the newly established Nairobi subsidiary Chryso Eastern Africa.

“With logistic networks, warehousing facilities and clearing agents already established, Chryso Eastern Africa will now focus on building a manufacturing plant in the next year.”

Although he did not disclose the location or size of the proposed plant, Mr Sawyer said the facility will make the company more efficient in serving the region where it already has a presence.

Chryso is owned by private equity firm LBO France and operates in 20 across Europe, North America and emerging markets – which account for more than half of its business.

The company has served East Africa for a decade mainly by supplying concrete admixtures, and cement additives from its headquarters in South Africa.

The roll out of big dollar infrastructure projects in roads, rail and ports is enticing foreign companies to expand into Kenya as they seek to position themselves to ride on the current construction boom.

In August 2014, BASF, the world’s biggest chemicals maker by sales, opened a Sh1.2 billion plant for concrete admixtures on Mombasa Road in a bid to “better meet” the demand for its products in the region.

Dick Purchase, BASF vice-president for Africa, Middle East, Turkey and Russia, said “the new plant would help the firm to increase efficiency while lowering costs”.

India’s largest chemicals maker Pidilite Industries is also positioning itself at the high table of the local construction sector. The firm said last year that it was aggressively marketing its range of adhesives in Kenya in effort to establish a regional presence.