HARARE — Zimbabwe’s cement producers want the government to impose tariffs on imports, including from Nigeria’s Dangote Cement, saying this would prevent the collapse of the local industry and save jobs.
Zimbabwe has three cement manufacturers, Lafarge Cement Zimbabwe, Pretoria Portland Cement Zimbabwe and Chinese-owned Sino Cement, which have a combined installed capacity of 1.85-million tonnes.
Africa’s richest man, Nigeria’s Aliko Dangote, said in August last year he planned to open a $400m cement plant in Zimbabwe.
The Cement and Concrete Institute of Zimbabwe (CCIZ) said in a paper circulated on Wednesday at a Chamber of Mines annual meeting in Victoria Falls, that cement from Dangote’s unit in Zambia, as well as imports from SA, Mozambique and Botswana, were hurting the local industry.
“The local industry cannot compete with imports leading to potential closure of businesses,” the CCIZ said.
“The industry requests the ministry to impose an industry protection tariff to equate the landed price of imported cement to the cost of local manufacture (of) $50 per tonne.” CCIZ said only local producers should be allowed to import cement after getting approval from the government.
The industry body said Zimbabwe’s use of the US dollar after it ditched its own currency in 2009 made it an attractive market for regional countries with weakening currencies.
But a strong dollar, coupled with high labour, electricity, fuel and transport costs, has made Zimbabwe’s cement more expensive than imports from neighouring countries.
Zimbabwe’s cement market is growing at an annual rate of 2%-3% and manufacturers are expected to produce 1.17-million tonnes this year.
The three manufacturers had invested $185m to upgrade plants and increase production in the last five years, CCIZ said.