Since the turn of the millennium, sanctions have been the escape goat for ill-performing sectors of the economy.
An in-depth research in the severe shortages of cement currently faced in Zimbabwe can not be directly linked to economic sanctions put by western countries.
The cement shortages in the country can be traced to gross maladminstration of the country and economy by those in the echelons of power.
Prices of cement have increased from US $9 per 50kg to around US $22 as of late, just in a period of 2 months.
The cement shortages have been associated with the booming construction industry which had seen an increased demand for cement.
It was also reported that, there had been reduced local production of cement as the major manufacturing plants are undergoing re-tooling and mantainance work so as to boost production capacities.
The cement produced in the country have not been enough for a while and the Government of Zimbabwe had been issuing licences to dealers, to import cement so as to bridge the gap between demand and production done locally.
Unfortunately, many of the licences are said to have expired, which have led to reduced imports culminating in cement shortages.
Lafarge, Sino Zim and Pretoria Portland Cement (PPC) are the country’s major players in cemment production.
During the “new dispensation”, shortage of cement was more pronounced in 2018, 2021 and this year.
The richest man on the continent, Aliko Dangote visited Zimbabwe in 2015 and expressed interest to invest in the country.
During that time, Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote’s company was interested in building a US $400 million cement plant in the country.
Dangote, during the visit expressed interest in investing in power generation and coal mining.
The plan did not come to fruition, the reason behind was based on the bureaucracy prevalent under the late Robert Mugabe’s government, the 1st Republic.
2nd Republic just as bad as the 1st Republic
In 2018, Dangote Group was optimistic that they were going to move smoothly to explore investment opportunities again in various sectors of Zimbabwe’s economy.
This was after the so called, “New Dispensation” under the leadership of President Emmerson Mnangagwa controversially came to power and went on an offensive to promote the dispensation as new and ready to do business guided under the mantra “Zimbabwe is open for business”.
Dangote Group in April 2018, dispatched a team of 9 people comprised of geologists to Zimbabwe to prospect for areas of investment.
They wanted to invest an amount of 1,5 billion in the country.
Buy Zim Chairperson, Dr Anxious Masuka then remarked that, the visit by the Dangote team presented an opportunity for the country to create linkages for the creation of wealth and jobs.
Nothing was ever heard from the outcome of the visit.
Dangote Group Executive Director, Engineer Mansur Ahmed visited the country again in 2022 during Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF).
Engineer Ahmed reiterated Dangote Group’s interest again in investing in Zimbabwe.
The engineer explained how the company have footprint in 14 African countries, boasting of cement production in 10 of the countries.
“It is my hope that perhaps not in the too distant future, Zimbabwe will be the eleventh”, Engineer Ahmed expressed their interest to invest in cement production.
The Zimbabwe Investment Authority later that year announced that it had licensed three projects worth US $1,2 billion for Dangote.
The projects were cement manufacturing, coal mining venture and power plant using coal off take production.
2023, Dangote is yet to start doing productive business in Zimbabwe.
Dangote Cement Industry
Dangote cement is Sub-Saharan Africa’s largest cement company with a production of 48.6 million tons a year across 10 countries.
Dangote Industries few years ago invested USD 400 million in a cement manufacturing plant in Zambia.
Most of the imported cement in Zimbabwe comes from Zambia.
Maladministration, bureaucracy and corruption are the major causes of cement shortage in the country, and not sanctions.