Indian firm to manufacture cement products in Athi River


White Cement. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Indian-based JK White Cement has set up a manufacturing plant in Athi River to produce wall putty, plasters, and tile adhesives.

The company's CEO, Amit Kothari, said they have been importing the product from United Arab Emirates in a partnership with Plascon, but reckons a local plant will offer them a competitive edge in pricing on cutting excise duty and use of local raw materials.

He said the firm launched operations in May as part of plans to expand into regional African markets through Kenya and South Africa.

“When we started here we were bringing the product from the UAE. The costs implication was slightly higher because of duty. When we started manufacturing about one and a half month ago our cost per square metres is lower than gypsum,” Mr Kothari said.

“Kenya has raw materials that we use in our product and our research and development team in UAE spent a lot of time here doing the cost analysis,” he said.

The wall putty product called Skimmax is used for sheathing of walls instead of plaster and paint.

Currently construction works use gypsum-based finishing or paint over the cement but the non-binding technique means that the paint tends to peel over time. Mr Kothari said its product binds with the paint and gives a longer lasting finishing.

Cost is the biggest consideration for home builders and the white cement producers say the product offers better prices and quality.

The Indian-based firm's plans to expand into South Africa were shelved to concentrate on Kenya in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Kothari says they are set to move to South Africa in 2022.

The company commenced its commercial production of cement products in the UAE in 2014 and is now supplying this and other dry mix products to more than 40 countries.

Kenya has continued to attract cement firms targeting the local and regional markets.