Chinese-built cement factory to tap into Ethiopia’s infrastructure drive

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When Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn inaugurated Ethiopia’s latest cement plant in Holeta town, Oromia regional state, on Wednesday, he had more than one reason to feel satisfied.

And it was not only because the Chinese firm Northern Heavy Industry (NHI) contracted to complete the project finished the 155.3 million U.S. dollars cement plant in just two years.

Habesha Cement Plant, located just 35 kms west of Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, is of the rare type, one built with the help of local businesspeople in a country where the state, well-connected local tycoons and foreign firms have the financial muscle and initiative to construct big projects.

Engineer Mesfin Abi, CEO of Habesha Cement Share Company, said when the company started with three people in September 2008, he never imagined it would reach today to 16,500 plus shareholders.

However the exponential increase in shareholder numbers was not enough as the company had to sell 53 percent of its share to two South African firms Pretoria Portland Cement (PPC) and Industrial Development Corporation (IDC).

It also had to solicit and successfully receive loans from the Trade Development Bank (TDB) the financial arm of the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the state owned Development Bank of Ethiopia to plug financial gap.

Ethiopian Prime Minister pointed out that with Ethiopia undertaking large infrastructure like the 6,250 Mega Watts hydro dam on Blue Nile River as well as housing projects, the need for cement supply is set to continue.

“With the inauguration of Habesha cement we have increased Ethiopia’s cement production capacity to 16.4 million tonnes of cement annually, increasing by around 10 times in 10 years, enabling us to cover our needs and be in a position to export to neighboring countries,” said the prime minister.

Habesha Cement Plant currently produces about 4,500 tonnes of cement daily with a maximum annual production capacity of 1.4 million tonnes of cement.

Ethiopia hopes by 2020 to be able to produce about 27 million tonnes of cement annually, making it an African powerhouse in cement production.

Liu Hequn, chairperson of NHI, said his company focuses on all aspects of project operations, ensuring that a plant works to its utmost projected life cycle.

“The project for NHI is significant, as it’s a large dry process cement clinker production line of Northern Heavy Industry, a masterpiece in the international project construction and also after the national cement project a successful service for Ethiopia cement engineering general contracting market,” Liu said.

NHI donated 500,000 birr (23,000 USD) to Oromia regional government to deal with drought conditions that have affected hundreds of thousands of people in parts of the region. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh