NDOLA: In a calculated move aimed at promoting intra-African trade and investment, Dangote Industries of Nigeria has invested US $ 400 million in a cement plant in Kafue on the Lusaka-Chirundu road.
At the helm of Dangote Industries is Aliko Dangote who is believed to be Africa's richest man. Dangote, who recently met with President Levy Mwanawasa inLusaka said construction of the plant would start before the end of this year.
Demand for cement in Zambia has risen sharply because of the booming construction industry as well as the increased demand for the building materials in South Africa as it prepares infrastructure such as stadiums in readiness for the hosting of the FIFA World Cup in 2010.
As a result of increased demand, the price of cement has shot up from K35, 000 per pocket in 2005 to around K55, 000 this year in places like Ndola on the Copperbelt.
Shortage of cement has led to the delay in the completion of Chembe Bridge across the Luapula River that will connect the Copperbelt to Luapula Province through the Democratic Republic
Government says the Chembe Bridge project will now be completed in August this year. The crossing facility is being constructed by China Henan, a Chinese construction company.
Meanwhile, Zambezi Portland Cement has completed constructing its US $ 150 million cement plant in Ndola.
However, production has not started as the company is waiting for ZESCO to connect it to the national electricity grid.
ZESCO senior marketing and public relations manager Monica Chisela said recently that the electricity company would connect the newly constructed cement plant from the Skyways sub-station.
Even with the completion of Zambezi Portland Cement, there is likelihood of the demand for cement in Zambia to remain high.
Requirement for cement will go up, especially that Zambia has embarked on several large construction Projects, including the erection of the Kazungula Bridge across the Zambezi River, where crossing is done using a pontoon. (Sila Press Agency)