By Eric Nyasha Mhunduru
CEMENT manufacturer, Ohorongo cement says it is unfazed by new competition in their sector as they have maintained a high quality product over the years and will continue to implement new strategies to wither any competition going forward.
Speaking at the mining company’s plant in Otavi last week and reflecting on the arrival of Cheetah Cement in the Namibian market, Ohorongo Managing Director, Hans-Wilhelm Schütte emphasized the need for fair competition in the sector as there could be several negative implications if there were no proper checks and balances in the interest of stakeholders.
Cheetah Cement has established a new facility in Otjiwarongo, which has started with its rock blasting process, and is valued at US$350 million.
Cheetah which is a subsidiary of Whale Rock Cement will be importing clinker from China which will be used in their cement manufacturing processes.
Clinker is used as a binder in many cement products.
Plans for the Whale Rock/ Cheetah Cement plant were first announced in 2015 when a memorandum of understanding was signed with between Cheetah Cement and Asia and Africa Business Management (Xi’an) Co Ltd.
Schütte said such a move where a company imports clinker was contrary to the government’s growth at home strategy adding that competition should always be in the interest of Namibia.
“It is not for me to talk about the new competition as any competition is healthy for us, as long as we have all the proper checks and balances in place to make sure that we do not disadvantage local people and companies.
“But we are not afraid of competition and looking at the current status in the country, we have an over-supply of cement already and any new player will also be adding to what we produce already hence we ask who is going to take up the excess product.
“Over-capacity in the market should see all other activities not being neglected such as the corporate social responsibility, and also will these companies not implementing cost cutting measures that will be detrimental to preserving the much needed jobs in the country and the Harambee Prosperity Plan.
“We also need to monitor the prices since we do not know what sort of products will be coming into the country, which might be of low quality hence it would come at a cheaper price, further compromising our market, which is already suffering due to the depressed construction sector over the years.
“Competition must be in the interest of Namibia at large as we source all our raw materials locally until we have the final product ready for the market, hence in these different processes, we provide employment and skills transfer to local people and also assist in the area that we operate in,” he said.
Ohorongo cement is in the process of redeveloping a recreational facility in the Otavi town, where once completed will house several recreational activities. The company pumped in N$1 million and two other corporates added the same amounts for the facility.
Schütte also highlighted that they were due to handover houses to some of its employees who had qualified to be beneficiaries of their housing scheme, where the company constructs the houses and the employees pay back the money over a set period of time.
Ohorongo cement also assisted the Shack Dwellers Association by providing funds for their various housing schemes in the Otavi town as part of the company’s corporate social responsibility.
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