Following the shortage of cement on the local market, the newly-completed cement plant, Prime Cement, is expected to start operations on Thursday next week, and it is expected to bridge the current cement gap on local market.
Located at Musanze Industrial Zone in Kimonyi Sector, Musanze District, the cement plant is privately owned and it is part of the Milbridge Holdings a group of companies involved in manufacturing and distribution of construction materials in Angola, the United Arab Emirates, Rwanda and South Africa.
The plant comes at a time a big number of construction projects were either put on hold or seen budgets on construction projects going significantly up as a result of cement shortage on the local market.
The current shortage of cement on the local market has resulted in the sharp rise in market prices to Rwf13,000 from Rwf8,500 per bag of cement.
The ongoing scarcity of locally manufactured cement is mainly driven by CIMERWA’s current quest to satisfy an urgent supply tender from the Ministry of Education which a few weeks ago embarked on a nationwide project to construct more than 20,000 classrooms in the country.
Located in Rusizi District, CIMERWA is the only cement manufacturer in the country which has been struggling to satisfy local demand.
Eric Rutabana, the Chief Executive Officer of Prime Cement, told The New Times that the cement plant will bring solutions to the current cement shortage on the local market as well as create employment to some members of the community in Musanze.
“You don’t just put such a huge investment in such a big project targeting profit out of it. You also need to contribute in finding solution to a persisting problem the construction sector that has been facing recently, which is our main priority,” Rutabana said in an interview.
“We expect the plant to significantly reduce the current scarcity of cement that different players in the local construction sector have been experiencing,” he added.
The cement plant, which has been under construction since August 2018, will upon completion cost around $40 million (over Rwf37 billion) and is expected to start operations with a projected production capacity of 50,000 tonnes per month (approximately 600,000 tonnes per year).
Prior to starting operations, Rutabana said the new cement plant is expected to hire over 300 persons who will be working at different departments of the cement value chain from production, transportation, loading and off-loading among others.
The plant is expected to double its production capacity to 1.2 million tonnes in the next phase as it targets to go beyond bridging the demand-supply gap and start exporting in neighboring countries.
“We want to make sure that we can take advantage of the neighboring market and start exporting and ensure that the construction sector continues to grow so that it can provide employment to so many people as long as it gets more active,” Rutabana said.
Gentil Kangabo, the Chairman of Rwanda Engineers Council welcomed the move by Prime Cement and believes the plant could soon bring relief to the sector’s current shortage of cement.
“That (having a new cement plant) is really good news for us, players in the construction sector, because CIMERWA was no longer able to satisfy the market.
We hope it will address not just the shortage and rising prices of cement which were two big challenges for the sector recently but also to ensure to satisfy the demand on the local market. Together, we can see the construction sector booming again,” Kangabo told The New Times.
As at the end of last year, the national cement demand stood at around 700,000 tonnes per year, while the country produces 480,000 tons hence relying on imports to cover the production shortfall.