Malawi Minister of Mining John Bande on Thursday hit at cement manufacturing companies in the country, saying their prices are the highest in the entire Sadc region.
Bande said this at an interface meeting with the companies in Lilongwe where he said government is worried that the country continues to lose $50 million (about K17.5 billion) yearly due to imports of raw materials for cement production when the same are available in Malawi.
“It has been sadly noted, however, that the price of cement in Malawi is the most expensive as compared to other Sadc countries.
“For example, the average price of a 50kg bag of cement in Malawi is $19 (about K6 650). The difference in price for a 50kg bag of cement in Malawi as compared to other Sadc countries ranges from $1 (about K350) to $11 (about K3 850) varying from country to country.
“In Malawi, raw materials are locally available for the production of cement clinker. However, government is greatly concerned that cement producing companies in the country prefer importing clinker; hence, spending close to $50 million [about K17.5 billion] every year.
“If we are to make good strides as a nation in achieving Malawi’s infrastructural development needs, the only way, is to make sure that we use the resources we have in this country to produce cement products which will be available and affordable.
“It cannot be overemphasised that cement, as a product, is essential in creating the structures that shape our landscape, from homes to hospitals, bridges, roads, schools and universities. We cannot talk about infrastructural development without talking about cement,” said Bande.
Principal Secretary for Ministry of Mining Dr. Leonard Kalindekafe said Bande met several cement manufacturers to discuss concerns in their industry.
In an interview, one of the cement producing companies, Shayona personnel and administration manager Rowland Mwalweni said cement companies consider several factors, including government taxes when determining prices of their products.
“The prices depend on so many things. Malawi is a landlocked country and the cost of transporting raw materials is huge. Some of us also look at taxes as a contributing factor. The taxes are high,” said Mwalweni.
He said clinker is the main component of cement.
“Clinker is not a raw material. It’s 95 percent of the already manufactured cement. You crash it into powder and add some things before packing it into bags,” said Mwalweni.