CIMERWA, the country's leading cement business player, has registered a 20 per cent year on year increase in its sales volumes, attributed to its plant maintenance and upgrade in 2018.
Last year, Cimerwa produced only 364,864 tons of cement - less than 60 per cent of the total demand which saw the construction industry grapple with a shortage in supplies that saw a nearly 50 per cent increase in prices in some parts of the country. The country imported 318,854 tons to meet the demand of 640,455 tons, according to the statistics from the National Bank of Rwanda.
The cement shortage also led to the government's subsidization of the sole cement manufacturer in Rwanda to increase its production.
Officials at Cimerwa however say the unflinching support of its stakeholders and plant's upgrade increased its production capacity to over 80 per cent in 2019 as compared to 65 per cent in the previous year.
Cimerwa's plant located in Rusizi district in the Western Province currently produces 480,000 tonnes per annum and looks to increase capacity to 90% by mid-2020 and further to 100% by mid-2021 reaching its full capacity of 600,000 tonnes per annum.
Addressing media at Cimerwa's Annual Financial Report CEO Roundtable held in Kigali, Bheki Mthembu, the CEO explained the strategic intent behind the plant's capacity upgrades saying;
"As a highly capital-intensive business our upgrades needed to be systematically undertaken. The major investment upgrades which was commissioned in 2015 taking us from a capacity of 100,000 tonnes per annum to today's capacity of 480,000 tonnes per annum are a testament to our commitment of meeting Rwanda's macro infrastructure agenda.
In the meantime, we can only be proud of our accomplishments as we are now officially a profit-making business in 2019 compared to previous years. The profits we made this year will ultimately contribute to the ongoing capacity scale up of our plant."
John Bugunya, the Chief Financial Officer at Cimerwa who highlighted its key financial performance figures said that the 20 per cent sales volume increase year on year triggered a 24 per cent revenue increase year on year with a Rwf 4.45 billion profit before tax.
John Bugunya, Cimerwa's Chief Financial Officer presents the company's annual report to journalists yesterday.
He also expounded on the key factors behind this financial growth saying most of the company's profits can be attributed to the government's unwavering focus and investment in the development of the infrastructure sector and its involvement in key national development projects this past year.
Construction projects included the Kigali Arena, the Bugesera International Airport, which is still under construction, the new Prime Minister's office, the new Gasabo District headquarters and many more.
Mthembu cited challenges inherent to the manufacturing process that hindered the 600,000 tonnes per annum expected supply.
"We mine the limestone in Bugarama but unfortunately the limestone sits in the hot water spring so we forever have to find where we can mine the limestone. There have always been limitations in the raw milling because of the moisture that is in the limestone this is why we weren't able to reach the 600,000 tonnes expected supply."
Nonetheless, he hinted on Cimerwa's plans to scale up to 90 per cent production capacity by the same year and 100 per cent by mid-2021 which are underpinned by its commitment to deliver to the best of its ability to its loyal customers. This is also part of the Government of Rwanda's agenda to reduce cement imports by gearing up local production.
"Our focus is to sustain the momentum and continuously ensue optimization of the plant production capacity by investing in the drying technology as well as the milling equipment efficiency and in 2020, we should reach 90 per cent capacity production.
Cimerwa cement was reliable yesterday, it still is today and it will remain the same in the future. Our efforts are now mainly concentrated on ensuring that our customers get a steady supply of our product and use Sima Nyarwanda which has proven over the years to be a dependable building solution. Next year we intend to launch a wider "range" of products with the aim of meeting our customer's specific application" he said.
He also went on to explain that above and beyond profit making and optimising production capacity, Cimerwa is a socially conscious and responsible company that has been involved in several Social initiatives aptly dubbed "Because of CIMERWA" that aim at helping the community around the Bugarama area and beyond.
"At Cimerwa we believe that businesses should have concerns that transcend profit-making. We endeavor to impact all the communities we operate in positively. Our outreach programs target key areas that contribute to sustainable development. i.e. infrastructure, health, education, trade, sports and more."