The project will cost 380 million Br and rests on a 10,000sqm plot of land
The first aluminium pipe factory in Ethiopia, a joint venture of Rifeng Ethiopia and Rifeng China, is set to be constructed in Debre Birhan, Amhara Regional State with a total investment of 380 million Br.
To rest on a 10,000sqm plot of land, with a plan to expand to 15,000sqm after the beginning of production, the factory has a production capacity of 381,000m to 211,000m of pipe a month. It will produce pipelines that are 60m to 100m long along with their fittings. Construction is intended to finish within a year's time and for production to begin in 2019. The factory is expected to open job opportunities for 150 to 200 people.
The company has already secured the plot and is getting ready to start construction applying for a building permit, according to Biniam Melkamu, general manager of Rifeng Ethiopia, a company which was founded by Esmelalem Zewdie, who has been involved in the import and export business for the past fifteen years. The company imports goods such as finishing materials for housing and hospital purposes. Besides, Rifeng Ethiopia is in the process of building a food processing plant at Suluta, Oromia Regional State.
Rifeng China has a two decades experience in producing plastic pipes fitting and a supplier of indoor temperature control. It works with over 1,000 agents and different distributors in the world, according to its official website.
"Since aluminium pipes are uncommon in Ethiopia's construction industry, we have given training to 34 plumbing service companies and contractors on installation as well as help in their capacity building," says Biniam.
The pipes are different from the plastic and metal pipes mostly employed in construction. The specific type that the factory produces is called Aluminium polyethene (PEX) and consists of cross-linked PEX, and welded aluminium.
"We will have the capability to satisfy 35pc to 40pc of the local market demand, and also considering exporting to neighbouring countries," says Binyam. "The country needs quality products, and we are aiming to help in this regard through technologically advanced industrial products."
As the country has not been locally manufacturing the product, different companies including Rifeng Ethiopia were importing the product. Users were also importing the product by themselves as it was not available as much in the market.
There are currently two most prominent factories in Ethiopia that produce pipes, such as Kaliti Metal Products Factory and Oromia Pipe Factory Plc, according to a date from the Metal Industry's Development Institute (MIDI).
The company would help the government to save foreign currency it has been incurring to procure such products, according to Fite Bekele, director of communications at the Institute.
"The government uses the product for the water supply projects it is undertaking," said Fite Bekele, "and it is using imported pipes."
Esayas G.Yohannes (PhD), a lecturer at School of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Addis Abeba University, believes that the products can save construction time given their strength as well as flexibility.
"It is hard to gauge how the product reacts to Ethiopia's climate though unless we see it in action," he says.