There is massive infrastructural development across the country that has resulted in high demand for cement.
Many roads are being constructed under the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme (ERRP2), there is also a housing boom, many dams are being constructed and Government is working on the Hwange Thermal Power Station Expansion Project.
The revamping of the Harare-Beitbridge Highway is among the major road rehabilitation projects being implemented while the major dams under construction include the Lake Gwayi Shangani and the Tuli- Manyange Dam.
All these projects are consuming a lot of cement hence the high demand for the product. The cement manufacturing companies are therefore enjoying good business as they are battling to meet demand. This is a positive development which is contributing significantly to the growth of the economy.
The Second Republic’s thrust is to assist the manufacturing sector to increase capacity utilisation. Government is also encouraging citizens to buy locally manufactured products to support the manufacturing sector.
The manufacturing sector is also benefitting from the Government’s Import Substitution Strategy and Local Content Policy. It is because of these initiatives that Zimbabwean brands are now dominating shelves of most retail outlets.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe on its part, is prioritising the manufacturing companies when it comes to allocation of foreign currency. The challenge to industry therefore is to ensure that the prices of locally manufactured products remain affordable to the majority of consumers.
We want at this juncture to appeal to cement manufacturing companies not to take advantage of the high demand for cement to increase prices.
The price of cement which has been selling at US$8 a bag, has now been increased to between US$10 and US$12 and we believe there is no justification for this price jump.
We appreciate that the local companies are producing cement of high quality but it should remain affordable. The cement manufacturing companies must support the housing construction boom which is being witnessed across the country by availing cement at affordable prices.
Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Sekai Nzenza said Government will soon engage cement manufacturing companies so that their prices remain affordable to the majority of consumers.
We do not want a scenario whereby individuals or companies are forced to import cement when we have the capacity to produce it here. Most of the raw materials for cement manufacturing are found locally hence there is no justification in increasing the prices in US dollar.
It is our hope that the cement companies will not wait for Government intervention to reduce their prices.