Production of cement in the region could be boosted following efforts by the East African Community partner states to harmonise cement and limestone standards.
The move follows complaints from producers over lack of uniformity on standards that govern the industry, which they said affects competitiveness of the sector and ultimately intra-regional trade, especially cement exports.
Fidelis Sakwa, a representative of the EAC cement producers’ association, said there is need to review cement standards in the region in accordance with international best practices.
“While it’s a norm all over the world to have cement standards in a market reviewed every after five years, this has not been the case with the East Africa region since 2001. Therefore, it’s imperative to not only have them reviewed but also harmonised,” Sakwa said.
Sakwa was speaking during the first East Africa Community technical committee on harmonisation of standards workshop in Kigali, yesterday.
The five-day workshop, organised by Rwanda Standards Board (RSB), attracted more than 100 standards experts, engineers and policymakers.
According to Samuel Mporanzi, RSB’s standards lead officer, harmonising standards in the sector will open up more trade opportunities among partner states.
Cement standards are not only mandatory but also referred to as safety standards; it is, therefore, important to have them harmonised for the purposes of quality but also safety, he said.
Eng. Vivien Munyaburanga, the chairperson of the EAC technical committee on standards of cement and limestone, said the EAC initiative is in line with the common market protocol which liberalises movement of goods, labour and services across the region.
“This will, therefore, facilitate easy movement of cement products across the partner states, reduce the cost and boost regional trade,” Munyaburanga said.
Richard Ebong, the head of the standards unit at the Uganda national Bureau of Standards, said the initiative is coming at the right time and could help improve regional trade.
Producers welcome move
Eric Gisore, the productions manager of Cimerwa, said the move will help enhance Rwanda’s cement exports.
Rwanda’s sole cement producer, Cimerwa, plans to increase its production capacity from current 100,000 metric tonnes to 600,000 metric tonnes annually when ongoing expansion works are completed Market demand for cement currently stands at about 500,000 tonnes of cement per year, and the country depends mostly on imports. It is anticipated that Rwanda could save up to $140 million once Cimerwa’s new plant begins production.
This will also help reduce the price of cement which is currently at Rwf8,000 a bag.