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Commodities

Covid-19 cuts cement usage 8.3pc in April

Kenya’s cement consumption dropped by 8.3 percent in April as the Covid-19 containment measures took a toll on construction activity
Kenya’s cement consumption dropped by 8.3 percent in April as the Covid-19 containment measures announced by the government in late March took a toll on construction activity. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Kenya’s cement consumption dropped by 8.3 percent in April as the Covid-19 containment measures announced by the government in late March took a toll on construction activity.

Latest data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics shows that the country consumed 505,958 tonnes in April, down from 551,914 tonnes in March.

Cement consumption had been growing from the beginning of the year before being affected by the Covid measures in April.

The government imposed restrictions in the country in late March after Kenya's first Covid-19 cases were announced.

This led to an 8.3 percent drop in cement consumption in April, when 505,958 tonnes were sold compared to last March when Kenyans consumed 551,914 tonnes in the comparative 2019 period.

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Savannah Cement chief executive Ronald Ndegwa said the slowdown had seen the firm’s sales drop by almost a third in the second quarter of the year, even though the industry remains optimistic of a bullish market in the coming months.

“Over the last few days 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,” said Mr Ndegwa.

He also pegged the recovery hopes on upcoming infrastructure projects such as the Nairobi Expressway.

Concerns, however, remain as the country’s production is still well below the installed capacity, exposing cement firms to idle capacity that has taken up billions of shillings in capital investment.

The country’s total capacity stands at above 13.2 million metric tonnes, while overall cement production hit a five-year low of 5.88 million tonnes in 2019.

Bamburi, Mombasa Cement, East African Portland Cement Company, Savannah Cement and National Cement have all been increasing their capacity, defying the decline in consumption.

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