In order for a country like Zambia to continue along its current path of growth, several key ingredients must be available.
Without a doubt, cement is one of the indispensable parts of the mix.
Until 2009, Zambia had just one large cement manufacturer. Late last September, Zambezi Portland Cement Limited
) launched its production, thereby breaking a long-standing monopoly and making superior quality cement available at more competitive prices.
ZPCL chose Ndola, Zambia’s second largest city, as its centre of operations, where it built a £95-million cement plant. During the initial months, ZPCL was producing 400 metric tonnes (MT) per day, enough to convince company heads in the mining and construction sectors that it meant business. After China-based Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Corporation inspected the cement and liked what it found, it agreed to buy all the cement required for its flagship project in Zambia: the 41,000-seat Ndola Stadium.
Today, the ZPCL plant is operating at full capacity, producing 1,350 MT of 42.5N cement per day in conformity with international standards EN-196 and EN-197.
Managing director Antonio Ventriglia explains that for mining and construction companies in Zambia, his company’s cement couldn’t have come at a better time. “We’re supplying the mines with high-quality cement which is a big thing for them, because if they did not have the product on-site in Ndola, they would have to import it from South Africa, which would be really expensive due to the logistics of such transactions,” he says.
This proximity allows ZPCL to handle orders quickly and keep delivery times low. Mr Ventriglia also comments that all the cement ZPCL produces is sold and consequently, they plan to raise production to 1,500 MT per day by June 2011.
Demand comes not only from domestic customers; plenty of the sales are to neighbouring Burundi and the DRC. “The reason we are able to capture this kind of market is and always will be our quality; it is our competitive advantage here,” asserts the managing director. Nevertheless, around 40 per cent of the cement ends up in Lusaka, the country’s capital and fastest-growing city. Once production has been expanded, he says they will consider exporting further abroad to Angola, for example.
ZPCL brings to Zambia pure Portland cement with no extenders used in its production process and of a type that is ideal for use in all construction projects ranging from dams, bridges and roads to houses, office buildings and concrete pipes. The company has already secured important contracts in several multimillion-pound projects.
In the meantime, ZPCL is providing cement for the Government’s rural development projects. In July 2010, the company contributed 600 50kg bags of its high-quality cement towards the rehabilitation of the Lwitikila Girls School in Mpika.