Nigeria’s cement manufacturers and top economists have chided the Ibeto Cement Company over its resolve to continue to import cement into the country despite the capacity of Nigerian manufacturers to meet local demand.
A statement by the head, corporate communications, Dangote Group, Mr. Anthony Chiejina, noted yesterday that leading cement manufacturers in the country – Dangote Cement Plc and Lafarge WAPCO Cement Plc – were alarmed at the glut created by cement importers.
The development has forced the Dangote Group to halt production in its almost four million metric tonnes Gboko plant in Benue State, the statement disclosed.
In the same vein, the management of Lafarge WAPCO Cement Plc has cut its production as glut intensifies in the subsector. Plant manager, Lafarge’s Ewekoro cement plant, Mr. Lanre Opakunle, said 50 percent of Lafarge’s Shagamu plant had been shut down.
He said that the company’s Ewekoro plant had cut production by 40 percent in response to the glut in the market, adding that, at the moment, the various Lafarge factories had excess cement and clinker inventory at their plants of about 300,000 metric tonnes, which cannot be absorbed by the Nigerian market because it is already over supplied.
According to him, the firm had been running the Ewekoro plant on skeletal schedule to prevent its total shutdown.
The local manufacturers said that if the glut continues, it may force hundreds of thousands of Nigerians out of jobs.
Cement manufacturers, under the aegis of Cement Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (CMAN), have also said unless the federal government fulfills its promise of halting importation, the cement sub-sector of the economy might go the way of the textile sector.
CMAN chairman, Joseph Makoju, said the 18.5 million tonnes of cement production target reached by local manufacturers was being threatened.
“Yet the 18.5 million tonnes is representing just 65 percent of the present total installed capacity of the industry. Between 2002 and May 2012, a total of $6 billion in new investment was made by local manufacturers, while the ongoing expansion and new plants are estimated to cost another $3.5 billion. Due to continuous rapid growth, the nation no longer requires cement imports, as local demand is being effectively met and even surpassed,” he explained.