HARARE â€” Zimbabweâ€™s cement producers want the government to impose tariffs on imports, including from Nigeriaâ€™s Dangote Cement, saying this would prevent the collapse of the local industry and save jobs.
Zimbabwe has three cement manufacturers, Lafarge Cement Zimbabwe, Pretoria Portland Cement Zimbabwe and Chinese-owned Sino Cement, which have a combined installed capacity of 1,85-million tonnes.
Africaâ€™s richest man, Nigeriaâ€™s Aliko Dangote, said in August last year he planned to open a $400m cement plant in Zimbabwe.
The Cement and Concrete Institute of Zimbabwe (CCIZ) said in a paper circulated recently at a Chamber of Mines annual meeting in Victoria Falls, that cement from Dangoteâ€™s unit in Zambia, as well as imports from SA, Mozambique and Botswana, were hurting the local industry.
â€œThe local industry cannot compete with imports leading to potential closure of businesses,â€ the CCIZ said.
â€œThe industry requests the ministry to impose an industry protection tariff to equate the landed price of imported cement to the cost of local manufacture (of) $50 per tonne.â€ CCIZ said only local producers should be allowed to import cement after getting approval from the government.
The industry body said Zimbabweâ€™s use of the US dollar after it ditched its own currency in 2009 made it an attractive market for regional countries with weakening currencies.
But a strong dollar, coupled with high labour, electricity, fuel and transport costs, has made Zimbabweâ€™s cement more expensive than imports from neighbouring countries.
Zimbabweâ€™s cement market is growing at an annual rate of 2-3 percent and manufacturers are expected to produce 1.17-million tonnes this year.
The three manufacturers had invested $185m to upgrade plants and increase production in the last five years, CCIZ said. â€” Reuters.