Fin 24 / The new $82m PPC Harare plant commissioned on Thursday.
PPC chairperson, Peter Nelson said the company’s new $82m plant in Harare is a pillar of the company’s foray into Africa, where currency and imports are major worries.
In Zimbabwe, foreign investors have been unsettled by the country’s indigenisation policy but on Thursday, President Robert Mugabe said the empowerment policy was no genuine reason for investors to stay away.
Mugabe spoke at the commissioning of the PPC Harare plant on Thursday which will add an additional 700 000 tonnes of cement per annum. This brings up its output in Zimbabwe to about 1.8 million as it also already runs two other plants at Colleen Bawn and at Bulawayo.
“Many other companies are still struggling to put in place indigenisation compliance arrangements. The commissioning of this plant by PPC is evidence that indigenisation is no hindrance to investment,” said the Zimbabwean leader.
He added that PPC was among the first foreign companies in Zimbabwe to comply with the indigenisation policy that fund managers and analysts say deters investors. However, PPC – suffering from rising competition and cost pressures back home – is taking the Africa challenges in its stride.
Nelson said in Harare on Thursday that the DRC $300m plant has just produced its first cement product in the country. The DRC plant is now awaiting commissioning while the Ethiopian plant is also readying to come into production this year.
“Africa has been on the rise for many years and there are many opportunities for PPC to play in meeting the needs of housing and infrastructure development on the continent,” said Nelson.
He said the company was committed to its focus in spreading operations across Africa and also pointed to the company having set its sights on the Rwandan market.
Zimbabwe Industry and Commerce Minister, Mike Bimha said Zimbabwe is fixing the ease of doing business.
“This investment by PPC demonstrates that with appropriate policy and proper usage of funds, companies in Zimbabwe can re-equip and re-tool,” he said.
Mugabe’s administration is re-organising the National Incomes and Pricing Commission into a National Competitiveness Commission, with a bill for this now before parliament.
Last year, the government introduced import restrictions in a bid to protect local industries although this has caused discomfort in South Africa, with arguments over protectionism emerging. It is expected that companies such as PPC have benefited from this although imports still dominate owing to sluggish local manufacturing.
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