Clinker imports plunge 77pc on new levy

Cement clinker imports plummeted by 77.4 percent last year.

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Cement clinker imports plummeted by 77.4 percent last year as the government introduced a steep tax on the product, in a move it argued would help promote the local manufacturing industry.

According to the new Economic Survey, clinker imports declined to just 148,018 tonnes in 2023, marking a steep decline from 656,499 tonnes that were imported by cement manufacturers in the previous year.

The import decline follows the decision by the government to introduce a 17.5 percent export and investment promotion levy on the product starting July last year through the Finance Act, 2023.

Clinker is the major raw material used in the manufacture of cement, a key commodity used in construction.

Speaking in Busia last year, President William Ruto argued that the move would enable clinker to be produced locally, which would create jobs for thousands of jobless Kenyans.

Local cement manufacturers have also been racing to build their own clinker plants to cut their reliance on imports.

Billionaire Narendra Raval opened a Sh29 billion clinker factory in West Pokot last month. The plant has a capacity to produce 6,000 tonnes of clinker per day.

The tycoon is also seeking to set up a clinker factory with a capacity to produce 5,500 tonnes of clinker per day at Mwingi in Kitui County.

Bamburi Cement, National Cement and Mombasa Cement for instance produce their own clinker.

The East African Portland Cement Company (EAPCC) also recently announced plans to invest $200 million (Sh26.8 billion) to set up its own clinker factory in Kajiado County.

The lower imports of clinker also come amid a slowdown in the construction sector which has led to diminished demand for key construction inputs.

The sector grew by three percent last year compared to a faster growth of four percent in 2022, according to the survey.

“The decelerated growth was evidenced by declines in key inputs in the construction industry, such as cement consumption and volume of imported iron and steel, cement clinkers and non-ferrous metals,” said the survey.

The increased taxation has pushed up the cost of inputs particularly cement, with a 50-kilogramme bag retailing at about Sh1,000 this year, marking a steep rise from prices as low as Sh550 during parts of last year.

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