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A round-up of news items from across Africa

World Cement,

The Egyptian government has been reviewing the licences awarded to four cement plants over delays with start-up. On 15 December it was announced that North Sinai Cement’s licence has been cancelled while the other three have been extended. The licences were initially granted with the aim of increasing national production to meet high levels of demand in the country, which banned exports in July 2008 – a ban that will hold until October 2010. The February issue of World Cement will include an article from Arabian Cement Company about its experience establishing a new plant in the country, including some insight into the licencing process. The issue will be available for subscribers to download at the end of January.

At a recent charitable event, the Managing Director of Ghacem Limited informed attendees that the market price of cement in Ghana was the lowest in the West Africa sub-region. He added that the company has successfully reduced the volume of imported raw materials in its cement mix, with 24% of the content of its Super Rapid cement coming from Ghacem’s quarry. The company is actively seeking out limestone resources of sufficient quality in order to further reduce its dependence on imported materials.

The Mesobe Cement Factory is accepting delivery of new equipment from China to fit out its new line, which is located alongside its old plant on the outskirts of Mekele. The new line will cost approximately €96 million, all of which was provided by the Development Bank of Ethiopia. Once complete, the plant will have a total capacity of 1.2 million tpa, on par with its main competitor, the Muger Cement Factory, which is also undertaking an expansion project.

Cement demand in Ethiopia is approximately 6 – 7 million t, while production is below 3.2 million t. Demand has been growing at a rate of approximately 25% pa thanks to extensive construction and infrastructure projects. However, the industry has been somewhat hampered by growing energy costs and intermittent power supplies. Some 30 new companies have joined the market recently, most of which are not yet operational, and their presence could make Ethiopia a net exporter within three years.

Bamburi Cement is expecting the second half of this year to show sluggish growth compared with the first half. The post-election violence meant poor figures for H1 2008, against which H1 2009 showed strong growth, whereas the second half base is higher. The company has made some tough financial decisions this year, including selling the majority of its 15% stake in Athi River Mining Co. to reduce debt owed to Lafarge.

Elsewhere in Kenya, Sanghi Cemtech has contracted a consortium of Chinese engineering companies to supply the equipment for its new plant in Pokot. Sanghi has also increased its investment in the project to US$175 million. Phase one of the project is due for completion at the end of 2011, or early 2012, and will result in 600 000 t of cement production capacity. Phase two will double capacity and is due for completion by 2014/15. The groundbreaking ceremony is due to take place this month.

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