Malawi Government on Thursday engaged investors in the cement industry, in an effort to lobby for the reduction of the prices of the product, which is said to be expensive as compared to other SADC countries.
Speaking in an interview after the meeting with the investors, Minister of Mining John Bande said the meeting was important as it would help the country to achieve infrastructural development needs.
“If we are to make good strides as a nation in achieving Malawi’s infrastructural development needs, the only way is to make sure that we use resources we have in the country to produce cement products which will be available and affordable,” said Bande.
The Minister wondered why the product is expensive in the country when it is cheaper in other SADC countries.
Cement is said to be expensive in the country because cement producing companies prefer importing clinker, which is used to manufacture cement, when it is locally available in Malawi, spending close to 50 million US dollars.
Bande said the development was worrisome as it is contributing to the increasing prices of the product, when the companies have licenses to mine such raw materials.
“They have talked about clinker and gypsum which they import yet we have these products in Malawi and most of them have licenses to mine these raw materials which when mined and processed can be used as inputs to the production of cement and therefore the pricing of cement can go down,” he explained.
The Minister was however quick to point out that the nation should not expect the product to go down immediately saying it may take a bit longer considering the fact that government has just requested them to reconsider lowering the prices.
He pointed out that government was however happy to see that Lafarge cement has started lowering down its cement after the Minister visited its factory.
On the issue of unreliable power supply in the country as it was mentioned to be one of the contributing factors, Bande said the issue is over as it is expected to improve soon as Kapichila Power Plant has been upgraded.
He also mentioned that the power inter-connection between Malawi and Mozambique would help solve the problem of power supply.
Among others, the upcoming projects like Bwanje Cement Products and Kulimba Mineral Resources which are expected to join the industry soon would help reduce the problem.
On his part, the Managing Director for Lafarge cement, Bruno Hounkpati said the prices of the product is like that because of the challenges which the industry is facing, mentioning high power costs, importation costs and fuel costs as some of the contributing factors.
Asked as to why they prefer importing raw materials, Hounkpati said it was difficult for them to do that following the closure of its clinker production plant in Changalume.
He however said the company was exploring if it could be necessary to invest in a new clinker plant.
Commenting on an inflow of cheaper cement which is flooding the market in the country, Hounkpati said the concern to have the market protected had been forwarded to the Minister who has promised to look into such issues.
Currently, a bag of cement costs over 6,000 kwacha in Malawi, which is said to be expensive.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :