There is a renewed momentum by local cement manufacturers to grow volumes and replace cement imports, which have been increasingly pouring into the market to plug deficits.
After turning to profit for two consecutive years, recording an after tax profit of Rwf1.95billion in the year ended September, compared with last year, Cimerwa plc officials said their focus will be increasing production to wean the market off imports.
“More than 45 percent of the cement used in the country is imported, where importers use the country’s forex to buy it from our neighbours, this is something we are committed to reverse,” said John Bugunya, chief finance officer of Cimerwa.
He noted that having a new cement maker in the market, Prime cement, is a positive development because it contribute to the agenda of reducing cement imports.
“Getting another local cement maker at this time to also contribute to local cement production is a development we welcome, we have even been collaborating at a technical level,” he said.
The cement demand in the country has been growing by an average of 7 percent per annum over the past five years.
The annual cement demand currently ranges between 750,000 metric tonnes and 800,000, with 50 percent of this demand supplied by imports from the region.
"Yes, we have plans to ramp-up production at our current plant to reach the design capacity of 600,000 metric tons per annum," added Mr Bugunya.
The reduced overreliance on cement imports was more blatant this year, when the Covid-19 logistical disruptions brought forth major cement scarcities in the market, which led to skyrocketing of cement prices.
This started when Tanzanian truck drivers protested Rwanda’s Covid-19 containment measures, which morphed into Tanzanian authorities also opting to test Rwandan truck drivers even after they presented negative certificates.
This resulted in acute cement scarcity, since most of the cement imports into the country come from Tanzania.
The price of cement reached an unprecedented price of Rwf13000, the highest it has ever been.
Cimerwa’s revenues for the year grew Rwf63billion; a 1.5 percent growth compared to last year, however getting only Rwf 1.95billion in profit betrays a peculiar disparity, which officials attributed to high expenditure on costs of production this year.