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Editorial comment

Finally, 2020 is over and done with. And what a year it was, with the Australian (and later Californian) wildfires, the Beirut explosion, vast locust swarms in East Africa, Kanye West’s bid for the US Presidency, the Pentagon releasing footage of ‘unidentified aerial phenomena’ (read as: UFOs), the discovery of possible microbial life on Mars, and, of course, the global pandemic.

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More than any other it’s that last item on the list above that will see 2020 consigned to the waste basket of history as a year that most of us would gladly forget if given the chance. ‘The Year That Shall Not Be Named’ is thankfully now entirely relegated to the past tense and we can look to the future.

Of course, challenges still remain – as I write this, the UK is about to embark on its third ‘lockdown’ – but the rapidly expanding rollouts of vaccines both here and around the rest of the world look set to eventually return life to something approaching normal as we knew it back in the ‘good old days’ of 2019.

Of course, not everything will be the same. In November, the US voted in a new President (not Kanye) in one of the most turbulent elections in living memory, with President-elect Joe Biden due to be inaugurated on 20th January. In positive news for the construction (and therefore cement) sectors, Biden has proposed a US$2 trillion plan with major investments into infrastructure development, including the rebuilding of the country’s roads, bridges, schools, water systems and electricity grids.

Indeed, going by the current trajectory, 2021 looks to be a year of mild growth for the global cement sector, with growth rates of 3 – 6% expected in emerging markets. In his article on pg 19 of this issue, ‘A Cause For Cautious Optimism’, Imran Akram of IA Cement points out how, ironically, whilst the pandemic was the leading cause of a decline in cement demand in 2020, much of the growth expected this year is likely to come from investment in residential construction as the surge in remote working has driven up demand for larger homes in more rural areas.

Another major trend to emerge from last year was that of the virtual conference. As movement restrictions made business travel complicated if not impossible, these online alternatives provided many of the benefits of a physical event with few of the related costs. After the success of last year’s virtual conferences, World Cement will once again be hosting several such events throughout the year with EnviroTech 2021 coming up first on 20 – 21 April. Keep an eye on your inbox and for more information coming soon!

From everyone at the World Cement team, we wish you a Happy New Year.

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