Accra — Africa's leading cement manufacturer, Dangote Company and other cement importers are in for tougher times in Ghana, following plans by government to restrict cement imports into the country.
To this end, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, has proposed to the parliament, the enactment of an Act "to propose a ceiling on the annual importation of cement into Ghana."
Ghana has a production capacity of about 9 million metric tonnes per year, while national consumption is below 6 million; thus leaving an excess of about 3 million metric tonnes per annum.
Current imports into the country are above one million tonnes of cement per annum. This figure, according to the minister has aggravated the glut in the industry, thus the need for curtailment of cement imports.
The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, who conveyed the decision to restrict imports in a statement, also instructed all cement importers in the country to apply for permits.
However, companies legitimately licensed under the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme were exempted from applying for permits.
"The Ministry of Trade and Industry proposes through legislative instrument to impose a ceiling on the annual importation of cement into Ghana. Companies that wish to import bagged cement shall be issued a permit to avoid the chaos that has lately saddled the sector," the statement said.
Cement importers according to the minister; have up to the 31st of March 2016 to register with the Ministry of Trade and Industry ,adding, "Companies that are legitimately licensed under the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme are exempted from the need to apply for permits."
In recent months there have been agitations from local cement manufacturers for government's intervention to prevent the collapse of their companies.
Specifically, Diamond Cement Company in Aflao has in recent months protested against the importation of already bagged Dangote Cement from Nigeria. In one of such protests, some youths in the community had appealed to President John Mahama to intervene.
They demanded that Dangote should expand his factory in the country to create more employment in the country, instead of endangering existing jobs in the industry by importing already bagged cement into the country.