BOYD PHIRI, Masaiti
A GRAVEL road snaking through an open swath of land outside Ndola in Masaiti has no distinct name, but as one completes its 10-kilometre stretch, one name becomes clear – Dangote.
With no any other noticeable business name on the way, Dangote, printed on the archway to a
cement factory, has become a household name in Senior Chief Chiwala’s area of Masaiti district.
From the imposing infrastructure on a 34-hectare land, one is able to tell that the name Dangote, belonging to a Nigerian billionaire, has become rooted in the Lamba land and Zambia at large.
Dangote Industries Zambia, a company owned by the richest man in Africa, Aliko Dangote, has been changing the cement industry landscape in Zambia since its inception in 2015.
With an installed capacity of 1.5 million tonnes per annum, the company has over the last two years positioned itself as the fastest growing and leading cement producer in Zambia.
Its ambitious business strategy has helped to stabilise cement prices in the country from the time it entered the market.
Cement prices, which fetched around K90 before the arrival of Dangote on the market, have fallen substantially and have ranged between K55 to K60 per 20-kilogramme bag.
This has helped thousands of Zambians who could not afford to buy the highly priced cement, afford to build the much-needed shelter.
Dangote Industries (Z) Limited chief executive officer Desmond Maharaj says although the cement market has not been robust in the first quarter of this year, sales have been increasing exponentially since operations commenced in July 2015.
“In the first quarter we saw a drop in cement sales largely because of the rainy season. But overall, we have been growing steadily. It is our hope that with the country’s economy expected to improve, the cement market will become robust,” Mr Maharaj says.
The company relies on its own limestone mine for cement production, with deposits projected to last 50 years.
Plant director Ram Sharma says the large expanse of high-grade limestone deposits, coupled with state-of-the-art machinery, enables Dangote Zambia to give customers best quality and affordable cement.
“We have a 2-kilometre long conveyor belt that transports limestone from the mine to the plant. This technology is meant to reduce the cost of transportation of raw materials. We also want to ensure efficiency in our cement production process,” Mr Sharma says.
A tour of the plant shows various technological advancements in the production of cement, which include a highly automated robot laboratory.
This is an unmanned quality assurance process that samples, analyses and produces high precision results of all raw materials, intermediary products and the final cement product.
“Every bag of Dangote cement represents a rigorous process of quality analysis and fine-tuning to ensure that our customers have an experience with cement like never seen before in Zambia. Some of the raw materials used are limestone, laterite, clay and sand,” Mr Sharma says.
The process of production at Dangote cement factory is powered by a 30-megawatt power plant, which ensures uninterrupted supply of electricity to all departments.
“At full capacity the power plant produces 30MW, but when other machines are not running we only use about 22MW,” Mr Sharma says.
Although the company has directly employed over 1,000 workers, it has made sure that the loading of cement on trucks is done by automated pack machines to ensure efficiency.
“The machines can load about 120 tonnes of cement per hour. We also have 320 trucks that enable us deliver cement to every corner of Zambia to ensure that every citizen has a chance to use our good quality,” Mr Sharma says.
The company entered the market with two types of cement products namely 42.5R and 32.5R and it has also launched the 32.5N grade cement on the market.
Dangote public and media relations manager Katongo Chilufya says the company remains committed to producing the highest quality cement at the lowest workable cost.
“This is to ensure that all our customers get the same magical experience on the first bag to the last bag they purchase,” Ms Chilufya says.
The company has also engaged local agents who have been helping in the distribution of cement to various clients in communities around the country.
Baldwin Chanda, an agent from Gambhir Enterprises who was one of the guests that toured the plant last week, has glowing words for Dangote cement.
“We have worked very well with Dangote since they came on the market. Their services are good. That’s why we stopped dealing with other companies on the market because of high quality cement Dangote is producing,” Mr Chanda says.
He says his company distributes Dangote cement to various provinces, which include Southern and Western.
Another agent who toured the plant, Hassan Ali Abdi, says his block-making company in Lusaka has forged a good relationship with Dangote, which has guaranteed quality for his products.
“Dangote is giving us good business. Because of the quality of their cement, our clients are also appreciating the quality of our products,” he said.
Sohin Arscan, a block-maker from Ebru Factory, says his products are being appreciated by many clients.
“I have been dealing with Dangote for eight months now. During this period I have seen that people are appreciating our blocks,” he says.
Hassan Hamed is another agent who has seen value in using Dangote cement from the time he started dealing with the company last year.
“We are working hand in hand with Dangote because their products are of high quality.
“They also advise us on what kind of cement we should get depending on our needs,” he says.
However, Ms Chilufya says Dangote group is driven by a mission to touch the lives of people by providing their basic needs.
“Dangote is committed to the manufacturing and selling of high quality portland cement in compliance with statutory and regulatory requirements,” she says.
With the demand for cement ever increasing due to the construction boom, Dangote Industries Zambia is poised to cast its name in concrete in Masaiti and Zambia at large.