High cement prices hamper construction sector growth

Saturday July 6 2019

cement

Firms are investing in alternative technology to meet demand for cement. 

JEAN-PIERRE AFADHALI
By JEAN-PIERRE AFADHALI
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The high cost of cement is hindering growth of the construction sector and has seen some players invest in alternative technologies for making building materials.

The limited cement supply has been mainly attributed to the low production capacity of local cement makers, which could have been affected in the short term by the recent rejection of Hima Cement manufactured in Uganda for reportedly failing to meet set standards.

Remote Group, an engineering and construction firm is set to manufacture building materials called autoclaved aerated concrete, which is a versatile lightweight construction material and usually used as blocks.

The materials will be used at Rugarama estate, the recently launched low cost housing project in Nyamirambo sector.

“The building technology uses the least amount of cement because it remains very expensive in Rwanda,” said Ido Herman, chief operating officer at Remote Group.

The autoclaved aerated concrete plant will open in July in Eastern Province and is expected to produce 200,000 blocks per year.

Meanwhile, a new cement manufacturing factory will start production by the end of year and is expected to increase local supply.

The factory owned by Prime cement Ltd will be located in Musanze District and will have the capacity to make 600,000 tonnes per year. Industry experts say this should meet at least 50 per cent of the country’s needs.

Eudes Kayumba, managing director of Landmark Ltd, an architect and estate management company, said the new plant’s production will boost local supply but there will still be deficit.

According to estimates from people familiar with the construction sector, the country needs 1.5 million tonnes of cement annually.

While the new cement maker is expected to increase the supply; some say the investor could export the cement to neighbouring countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo. Rwanda Today has learnt that the country is now mainly importing cement from Tanzania.

Remote Group hopes to use only local materials, but it is importing lime from Tanzania. Autoclaved aerated concrete blocks are made from sand, cement and lime. The autoclaved aerated concrete technology is used in Europe and some Asian countries; in Africa similar factories are in Egypt and South Africa.

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