By Plaxedes Sibanda, HARARE, March 6, (The Source) – Pretoria Portland Cement Zimbabwe says it has recorded a marginal one percent growth in sales for the four months to 31 January compared to the prior year, despite an economic slowdown that could be expected to result in declining volumes.
PPC Zimbabwe managing director Njombo Lekula told The Source on the sidelines of a promotional event in the capital that while domestic sales had edged up, export volumes are dwindling.
“Starting this year we actually pleasantly surprised by the performance, we are about one percent up on year on year in terms of domestic sales,” Lekula said.
“We are one percent up in terms of volumes but the export volumes are under pressure and we are hoping to recover during the year.”
PPC Zimbabwe has cement plants in Bulawayo and Gwanda, and Lekula said the firm is expanding its facilities in the northern part of the country due to high demand. A $75 million Harare plant, which will have capacity to produce 680,000 tonnes annually, is at construction stage.
“We are at construction stage, the contractors are on site and the target is to commission the plant by the first quarter of next year. The growth in Zimbabwe is in the northern side of the country. The growth we are seeing in the northern part makes it sensible to put facilities closer to the market,” he added.
Lekula said the company is being weighed down by high costs of production and competition from imports.
“Imported products coming to the country have been a challenge but we appreciate that government is addressing those issues, (despite) not giving us protection by regulating imported products. The cost of doing business is also high. Logistics and power are still high but we have learnt to operate around it.”