Economy and Business

Nigeria holds highest cement prices globally for a decade – Producers lament

Nigeria has maintained the distinction of having the world’s highest cement prices for the past decade, according to David Iweta, the national chairman of the Cement Producers Association of Nigeria (CEPAN).

Despite the three major cement plant owners—Dangote, BUA, and Lafarge—producing significant quantities, there remains a substantial deficit of seven to 10 million metric tonnes per annum to meet local demand.

Speaking to Nigerian Tribune, Iweta attributed the high cement prices in Nigeria to the industry’s inability to satisfy the growing demand for the commodity.

He noted that while Dangote produces 17 million metric tonnes, BUA produces 10 million metric tonnes, and Lafarge produces 7 million metric tonnes, an additional 10 million metric tonnes are required to bridge the demand gap, primarily fueled by increased housing and infrastructure construction.

To address this situation, Iweta called for an end to the cement production and distribution monopoly by urging President Bola Tinubu to allow new players into the industry.

He emphasised the need to include companies with verifiable local investments within the participation scope and suggested that the government should encourage new players by granting licenses for limestone exploration to promote local production.

Iweta proposed updating unused cement licenses, specifically quarry licenses that were initially issued for local cement production. This move, he argues, would allow for interim supply through imports while bridging the gap until local production catches up, a process that could take two to three years.

He also urged the government to encourage financial institutions to support the initiative.

His words: “The only remedy is for the government to allow those with unutilised cement licences to be brought in. I mean, the quarry licenses that were given to us to produce cement locally, which should have been expired, it should be updated so that when we finish those quantities (500,000 mmts import each), we will now start producing locally and that will be within the period of two to three years.

“As we bring the imported product for the interim supply to fill the gap after we will all go back into local production.”

In a letter addressed to President Tinubu, Iweta underscored the critical role of cement in addressing infrastructure gaps, housing deficits, and revenue generation.

He added that the push for reforms ensures that the demand for cement is met at reasonable prices, aligning with global practices in the construction industry.

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