The Ministry of Industry and Trade says the quality of Malawi’s cement is similar to imported one and that import licences are only being given to provide consumers a choice of either buying imported or locally produced cement.
“Locally produced cement’s quality is as good as the imported cement,” said Ministry of Industry and Trade Assistant Director of Trade, Wiskes Nkombezi.
This contradicts claims being made by some proponents of imported cement who claim that Dangote cement of Zambia is of better quality than any produced in Malawi.
Dangote cement selling in Lilongwe has a certified strength of 42.5 while the average strength for Malawi’s cement available on the market is 32.5.
Asked to comment on the observation, Lafarge Cement managing director, Ilse Borshoff said cement available on the market is what is on demand among many customers in the country and that all the local companies have the capacity to produce any strength of cement, depending on demand.
She says her company – starting as Portland Cement, has been in Malawi for over 60 years and that its brands have built Malawi.
“If we talk of all infrastructure projects in Malawi like Kamuzu bridges, new stadium in Lilongwe, Bingu Conference Centre, Malawi University of Science and Technology, Parliament Building, all roads, to name just a few, were built with our brands,” she said.
“All local manufacturers have the capacity to produce all cement brands, either 42.5 or 32.5 depending on application,” she said.
Cement Products Limited managing director, Aslam Gaffar, said also there is nothing unique about the quality of Dangote or any other imported cement as his company is able to produce cement of varied quality.
“Our factory is a closed circuit cement grinding plant and can produce cement of up to 52.5,” said Gaffar, adding: “We are producing in big quantities a masonry cement called Nkope, which has a strength of 24, the most popular brand called Njati which has a strength of 32.5 and another brand called Tarzan with a minimum strength of 42.5,” he says.
“Our Tarzan has been the cement of choice for the contractors doing the new Liwonde Bridge and they are currently using this brand after doing various test at their own discretion,” said Gaffar.
“And we can produce a stronger product called Njati Xtra with a strength of 52.5 but we have never received any order or enquiry for this product. You see, the Malawi market is pre-dominantly a 32.5 market,” said Gaffar.
Two letters from Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS) both dated January 12, 2016 to Cement Products Limited confirm that following laboratory tests conducted on September 25, 2016 on the company’s Tarzan and Njati cement brands, the two products were rated at 44.79 against an MBS 29 specification of 42.5 and 36.61 against an MBS 29 specification of 32.5 respectively.