Climbing iron, steel prices cut Kenyan imports by 20 percent

Nine steel manufacturers fined Sh338 million by the Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) for price-fixing and causing artificial shortages of key construction materials, have appealed the decision. PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK

Iron and steel imports shrank by 20 percent in the second quarter of the year amid a slowdown in the construction sector.

The latest Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) data shows that the imports of iron and steel dropped to 225,126 metric tonnes in the period under review from 282,132 metric tonnes in the corresponding quarter in 2021. Prices of some steel products in Kenya shot up 40 percent in the first quarter due to a shortage occasioned by supply fears related to Russia’s onslaught on Ukraine and the battered shilling.

“The quantity of imported iron and steel declined from 283,132 tonnes in the second quarter of 2021 to 225,126 tonnes in a similar period of 2022.”

Steel is one of the world’s most important construction materials, with China being one of the key buyers of the metal from global producers.

The construction sector experienced a mixed performance due to a rise in cement consumption, increased quantities of bitumen and more credit being advanced to developers.

The sector’s performance softened from a growth of 6.8 percent in the second quarter of 2021 to 5.8 percent in the same period this year.

KNBS said “the sector’s performance was manifest in cement consumption and import of construction materials.” Cement consumption in Kenya rose by 7.8 percent in the quarter under review buoyed by the construction of mega infrastructure.

Mega-public projects such as the affordable housing projects, and the upgraded Sh40 billion Kipevu Oil Terminalhave boosted cement use.

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