The price of cement is dropping thanks to rising competition in the sector welcoming more cement companies to the market.
This follows removal of restrictions on some construction sites leading to an increase in demand.
While the demand for cement rose last year as government embarked on school construction and renovation, this is coming to an end.
A min-survey has established that a 50 kg bag of 32.5 N-grade, the prime cement is down to Rwf9,500 at retailers’ shops from Rwf10,000 in December.
The Tanzanian Twiga brand retails for Rwf9,000 down from Rwf12,000 three months ago, while the Cimerwa brand is Rwf10,000 from Rwf12,500. Portland Cement sells at Rwf10,000.
“When demand was at an all-time high, many people ventured into the hardware store business, but now that demand has nosedived, so are the prices,” Alain Japheth Habiyaremye, a cement dealer told Rwanda Today.
Twiga and locally-produced prime brands are widely available in outlets, but it appears Cimerwa released a small volume to the market as it prioritised state projects.
Demand fell as measures to prevent spread of the pandemic curtailed the movement of people, products and supplies beyond Kigali.
“We recently started seeing prices easing with some new brands flooding the market, either from outside and local producers,” Daniel Karera, a dealer in the city centre told Rwanda Today.
The country’s cement demand is estimated to be over 1.2 million tonnes per year, while the domestic supply of 700,000 tonnes from Cimerwa and the newly established factory Prime Cement are insufficient to slake it.
Recent figures from the United Nations’ COMTRADE, database on international trade show Rwanda imports from Kenya Portland rose to Rwf1.9 billion ($2.29 million), bridging the country’s supply gap and pushed prices down.
However, as general traffic between districts got disrupted, demand from rural areas dipped. “Before imposing the new movement restriction measures, cement business was good, and one could earn between Rwf1,000 and Rwf2,000 per 50kg bag, but with the restrictions, business has been badly affected,” said a hardware store owner at Kinamba.
“We now make only Rwf300 on a single bag, yet cement was normally the top-earning product in our store,” a source added.
“Generally, demand had gone down, but is reviving mostly among small business owners trying to renovate their shops,” Elisee Mushimiyimana, a store owner from Kimisagara sector in Nyarugenge district said.