Government searching for more investors in cement production

Workers load cement onto a truck at Cimerwa plant in Rusizi District. Rwanda Development Board is in the process to select the best investor to take Government shares in Cimerwa. / File

The Ministry of Trade and Industry is conducting a study that will establish the nature of interventions required to address the cement shortage in the country.

This is one of the steps being taken to address the shortage of cement, driven by a boom in construction activities, alongside attempts to attract investors in the industry.

This study, Jean-Claude Hakizimana, a Communications Officer at the ministry said, started in May and will end by August this year.

In an effort to deal with the cement shortage, the government has been subsidising Cimerwa to increase production.

However, government support did translate into increased production with the country’s largest cement maker consistently producing below its capacity of 600,000 tons per year. This prompted the government’s decision to divest from the business.

“The Rwanda Development Board is in the process to select the best investor to take Government shares in Cimerwa,” Hakizimana said.

While the national cement demand stands at around 700,000 tons per year, the country produces 480,000 tons hence relying on imports to cover the production shortfall.

“The market is open but today the demand at local market is huge and all cement produced is taken immediately,” he said.

Investors interested

Besides Cimerwa, new players are showing interest in the cement production sector.

One such example is Prime Cement, a newly established company now constructing a factory in Musanze District.

“To increase cement production a new investor was identified. This is Prime Cement, a newly established company which is constructing its factory in Musanze industrial park. This factory will be able to increase production for the local market and the export market,” Hakizimana said.

Prime Cement’s plant in Musanze, he said, is due to be commissioned next year.

The firm and FLSmidth Company, a Danish manufacturer and supplier of cement equipment, in April 2017 signed a multi-million dollar equipment supply deal to kick-start the project that could more than double Rwanda’s cement production.

“Prime Cement plans to produce 700,000 tons a year with a plan to expand.”

As noted, negotiations with other investors who wish to invest in cement production are ongoing with support from the Rwanda Development Board.

Asked how many new investors are actually interested Hakizimana said that one investor, Rubavu Cement Company, expressed interest to invest in cement production in Rubavu District but the project is not yet concluded.

If all goes according to plan concerns over the fact that current production does not meet growing demand could be allayed soon.

Big construction projects such as Bugesera International Airport in Eastern Province, Gisagara peat energy plant in Southern Province, and the construction of Base-Butaro-Kidaho tarmac road in the Northern Province continue to drive the rise in demand for cement.