Lafarge Chilanga Plc Board Chairman Muna Hantuba says his firm does not fear competition in the cement market brought in by Dangote Cement.
This week, Dangote Cement started production at its US$400 million cement plant in Ndola that will produce 1.4 million tons of cement annually.
But Mr Hantuba said Lafarge welcomes competition on the Zambian cement market as it will translate into improved service delivery.
‘We welcome the competition that is coming on the market. It just does the complimentary duty of making business easier for the stakeholders in this country,’ Mr Hantuba.
He added, ‘Perhaps i could be one of the first ones to congratulate Dangote for coming in with a plant and i understand that a truck load of their cement would have wheeled out of their plant recently. We welcome them to help us improve on the delivery of service and quality as we build better cities.’
Mr Hantuba was speaking in Chilanga this morning during the laying of a foundation stone for the construction of a new cement plant to be called Big Chilanga which will take the company’s annual production to 2.5 million tons.
‘On this very spot not very long ago we did the foundation stone for the plant which improved the delivery of cement to this country. We stand here today to put another plant which should come online by 2018,’ he said.
Mr Hantuba added, ‘When we put in cement to build the Kariba Dam, we knew that 50 years later we would still be producing cement, we would have improved our quality of cement and we would have done it in a safe environment. Lafarge does not condemn or fear rivalry or competition.’
And Lafarge Chilanga Chief Executive Officer Emmanuel Rigaux said the move to lay a foundation stone marks a huge step in the growth of Lafarge in Zambia.
He said Big Chilanga will be the largest cement plant not only in Zambia but in the region.
Mr Rigaux said the plant will take the company’s production from the current 1 million to 2.5 million per annum by constructing new line whose construction will start in the next few weeks upon regulatory approvals and will be completed with 18 months.
And speaking on behalf of President Edgar Lungu, Commerce Minister Margaret Mwanakatwe said the expansion of the plant will translate into increased jobs and industrial activities not only for Chilanga district but across the several sectors of the economy.
‘We welcome Lafarge’s expansion. The construction sector is the barometer of the country’s economy. I also know that Lafarge is adding 100,000 tons of cement per annum to its Ndola plant. This is another sign of confidence in the Zambian economy and the policies of my government.’