Cement consumption defies Covid curbs to hit 3.4m bags


A construction site. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Cement consumption in the first seven months defied effects of the coronavirus pandemic pointing to stable activity in the construction sector despite the restrictions imposed in March to curb spread of the disease.

Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) show that consumption rose 4.5 percent to 3.59 million tonnes in the period from 3.44 million tonnes posted first seven months of last year.

The sector remained relatively unaffected by restrictions on movement into and out Nairobi and Mombasa, dusk to dawn curfew and bans on public gatherings that hit most sectors of the economy.

Cement consumption rose month-on-month from April before it fell in July when Kenya announced phased re-opening of the country including resuming movement into and out of Nairobi and Mombasa.

“Following the lifting of the cessation of movement order we have seen a slight recovery of up to 10 percent largely driven by sales beyond the Nairobi Metropolitan area…all indicators are positive that a steady recovery will be achieved in the medium term,” Savannah Cement chief executive Ronald Ndegwa said

Consumption was 551,914 tonnes in March, fell to 505,958 tonnes in April and rose to 506,728 tonnes and 508,298 in May and June, respectively.

But cement use in the three months to June during the peak of the restrictions, remained higher compared to the same period last year.

This contrasts with other indicator in the property market like rent, home prices and land costs—which have been subdued by the reduced economic activities in the wake of the pandemic.

Rent prices in Nairobi and the neighbouring counties of Kiambu, Kajiado and Machakos dropped 0.2 percent in the three months to June compared to a 3.6 percent growth in a similar period last year.

HassConsult, which conducts a quarterly property pricing index in Kenya linked the fall to an oversupply of homes amid reduced demand related to the Covid-19 economic fallout.