Hima Cement is expected to get a thumbs-up to supply cement to the $3.2bn Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) project, a major boost to the company.
Allan Ssemakula, Hima Cement’s commercial director, said recently when a team from the SGR project visited the factory in Kasese district that the company had built capacity to handle special orders like the high grade cement required for construction of the railway.
Hima cement, Ssemakula said, is already supplying up to 6,000 tonnes of cement every month to the Karuma hydropower dam construction project.
“We are seeing light at the end of the tunnel,” said Ssemakula. “Hima Cement is making every effort to comply with the product specifications.”
The cement maker has commenced the construction of a new cement grinding plant in Tororo district that will produce up to one million tonnes of cement annually. The plant is set to be commissioned by the first quarter of 2018.
Emmanuel Iyamulemye, the SGR deputy project coordinator, technical, said the project needs about 800,000 tonnes of various types of cement – about seven per cent of the total value of the project.
“So far, we are satisfied with the arrangements Hima Cement has made to supply the project,” said Iyamulemye.
Recently, Kampala Cement managing director Bob Baryaw told reporters that they had already hosted officials from the SGR to test their cement to prove whether it meets the quality. Baryaw said the technocrats were happy with the quality.
Tororo Cement, the country’s biggest cement manufacturer, last year announced it would spend $25m on plant expansion. It said its capacity would be upgraded to three million tonnes, from 1.8 million tonnes per annum.
Brij Mohan Gragrani, the CEO of Tororo Cement, said last year: “The expansion is proposed in view of market demand in Uganda and the neighbouring countries.”
The firm is also targeting big projects such as the SGR and the phosphates plant in Tororo ,among others. Government is finalizing compensation of people displace by the SGR project as it prepares for construction.
Cement from local suppliers forms part of government’s much-needed push to boost local content in these projects. The assumption is that when the supplies are got from local producers, there is a trickle-down effect on the economy, with money staying within the country while more jobs are created.
Local content became a thorny issue on projects such as the Karuma dam where it was discovered that contractors were getting most of the materials from foreign firms. It was found that most of the cement had been imported from Kenya and China.
Uganda’s total cement demand currently stands at 2.4 million tonnes per annum with growth projected at between five and eight per cent, according to industry players. Overall, cement production is expected to peak at about 5.5 million tonnes in 2018.