Revealed 14 February 2022
Because the African cement sector begins to regulate to a post-pandemic local weather, Harpreet Duggal, CEO of buying and selling firm Black Rock Cement, UAE, and former CEO of Dangote Cement Tanzania, shares his knowledgeable opinion on the outlook for cement commerce within the area in 2022.
ICR: Might you present a short overview of Black Rock Cement’s operations and the worldwide markets it provides with cement, clinker and uncooked supplies?
Harpreet Duggal (HD): Black Rock Cement is a boutique cement buying and selling firm based mostly in Dubai, UAE. Whereas we’re based mostly in Dubai, our focus is on Africa, the place I spent 14 years with Holcim and Dangote. We primarily deal in cement, clinker, slag, fly ash, coal, petcoke and structural metal for our prospects within the Center East and Africa. Our bagged cement is subcontract manufactured in Pakistan below the Black Rock model, and bought primarily in east Africa and Indian Ocean islands.
ICR: What are you able to inform us concerning the present cement and clinker demand state of affairs for the markets Black Rock Cement provides? How was the sector impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and is the state of affairs stabilising?
HD: When COVID-19 struck in 2020, sub-Saharan Africa needed to bear the brunt of the pandemic in addition to the commodity market decline. This, coupled with inflation and overseas trade volatility, resulted in a difficult yr for many African international locations. As I all the time say, every nation in Africa is completely different. The COVID-19 influence on these international locations was additionally completely different. The most important influence on progress has been for tourism-dependent economies, whereas commodity exporting international locations have additionally been hit laborious. Nonetheless, extra diversified economies reminiscent of Ghana, Ethiopia, Senegal and Tanzania weren’t impacted considerably. South Africa and Zambia have been hit the toughest.
However the excellent news on the entire is that the state of affairs is stabilising. With the loosening of containment measures (see Determine 1), helped by increased commodity costs and easing monetary situations, development exercise has come again strongly. Cement demand in 2021 was up by 5 per cent in east Africa and by eight per cent in west Africa. Southern Africa was the toughest hit. The current scare concerning the “South African” Omicron [variant] added additional to the area’s woes.
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