Cement shortage: Govt to maintain import permits

Source: Cement shortage: Govt to maintain import permits | The Herald

Cement shortage: Govt to maintain import permits
Dr Nzenza

Martin Kadzere

ZIMBABWE will continue to issue cement import permits until local production returns to normal, Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Sekai Nzenza said yesterday.

A plant breakdown at Lafarge Cement, one of the country’s largest cement producers, has resulted in shortages of cement and the firm is currently importing from its sister company in Zambia. Lafarge Zimbabwe and PPC control more than 70 percent of the domestic market.

“Lafarge still has production challenges and we will continue issuing import permits until the situation improves,” Minister Nzenza told The Herald Finance & Business.

Demand for cement has been strong over the past two years, largely driven by various Government infrastructure projects including the construction of roads, dams and schools as well housing development mainly funded by diaspora remittances.

In the 2022 National Budget, the Government allocated $156 billion for infrastructure projects and this is expected to spur demand for cement going forward.

The shortage has led to price increases, with some traders and dealers selling a 50 kg bag for US$13.

On average, the 50 kg bag of cement costs around US$4,50 in Zambia.

“It’s very difficult to get cement from big suppliers and we end up getting the supplies from private importers, but at a very huge cost that will pass on to consumers. That is why the prices are so high,” a cement retailer in Harare said in an interview.

The ministry of Industry and Commerce promulgated an import substitution regulation, Statutory Instrument 89 of 2021, which was gazetted on April 2, 2021, which regulates and controls importation of cement into the country.

The Consignment Based Conformity Assessment programme also safeguards local cement producers from competin with poor quality cement imports through the pre-export verification of conformity to standards of cement before it is exported to Zimbabwe.

The Government is constantly engaging with the cement manufacturing industry players to increase their capacity utilization to resolve the constraints and challenges.

In line with the Government’s “moving up the value chain” agenda, the ministry said it would work with cement producers to enhance localization of the manufacturing industry to not only meet national demand but to compete effectively regionally and internationally.

“The Government also noted that the country attracts imported cement due to the excess capacity in the region and the high selling price in the market. This poses a threat to the local market as regional players find it lucrative to export into Zimbabwe without fully recovering their costs.