Displaying items by tag: Zambia
Zambia: Dangote Cement's Zambian subsidiary has sued the country's labour minister for libel and slander after he accused an executive of Dangote Cement Zambia of attempting to bribe him in September 2014. Dangote said that that the minister had created an impression that the company was exploiting Zambian workers and enticing government officials with bribes.
"The plaintiff has been brought into public scandal and its reputation has been injured," said Dangote. Local reports suggest that the dispute is the latest in a string of incidents in which Zambia's government has resorted to unorthodox tactics against foreign investors that it believes are circumventing labour laws.
Zambia: A Zambian government minister, Fackson Shamenda, has accused a Dangote Industries Zambia (DIZ) executive of attempting to bribe him, according to local media. DIZ has described the allegations as 'malicious misinformation.' DIZ has 400 workers building a US$400m cement plant in Zambia. The staff count should rise to 2000 when production starts in November 2014.
"For the record, DIZ categorically deny any claims of corruption and bribery and reserve our rights on this matter," said DIZ in a statement. Shamenda did not specify what was offered by the executive and said that he had rejected it because he had critical labour issues to sort out with DIZ and did not want to be compromised.
"He told me that it was a tradition in their culture to give someone a token of appreciation. Maybe his idea was that I turn a blind eye to what is happening at Dangote," said Shamenda, according to local media reports.
Shamenda also said that DIZ should offer workers at the company permanent employment and allow them to join unions. "There is no union and according to the reports I have received, those who have attempted to join unions have had their contracts terminated.
I have asked the labour commissioner to investigate and tell me all the categories of employees, because the reports we have received indicate there are no permanent employees."
DIZ said in its statement that Shamenda had made four surprise visits to the cement plant in the last four months, prompting the company to complain about his conduct as it felt that the minister was deliberately looking for wrongdoing. "DIZ was beginning to feel harassed and unwelcome in Zambia and immediately brought this to the attention of the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry," said DIZ in a statement.
Zambia: Lafarge Zambia is considering laying off some 30% of its workforce of 670 employees, according to a memo circulated by a group of unionised workers. The company, which owns cement plants in Ndola and Lusaka, has allegedly not yet paid its unionised workers a promised salary increase, according to local reports. Instead of increasing these wages, Lafarge Zambia's CEO Emmanuel Rigaux announced the layoffs.
"We are appealing to the government to intervene on our behalf so that we are paid our salary increment and also to find out why they are pruning staff," said employees of Lafarge Zambia. The workers also allege mistreatment by management and say that Lafarge sold most of its shares to Holcim because it is 'scared' of competing with Dangote.
"The CEO takes advantage of the greediness and selfishness of our own Zambian managers to exploit us," said the employees. "Most Zambian managers are destroying their fellow citizens by protecting the greediness of these foreign investors. The management make billions but they treat the employees poorly."
According to a sales report from Lafarge dated 12 August 2014, Rigaux said, "The recent trend in our costs though is not favourable, partly as a result of negative currency impact. We must take action to contain our costs and ensure the sustainability of our business, including the review of our headcount. As we are entering the active phase of our capacity expansion projects both in Ndola and Chilanga and new competition is emerging, we must be fully mobilised to better serve our customers and maintain our undisputed leadership, including our cost leadership."
Zambia: Lafarge Zambia's CEO, Emmanuel Rigaux, said that its profit went up by 66% during the first six months of 2014, largely driven by favourable volumes, the launch of cost-control measures, improved industrial performance and positive foreign exchange gains.
"Our priority to improve our level of customer service through innovative new products, a re-focused sales and customer service team and state-of-the-art logistical solutions, have started to show results," said Rigaux. "Together with improvements in operational and industrial performance at our Ndola and Chilanga plants, we have managed to attain encouraging first half results despite a challenging environment in Zambia and key export markets."
Cement production grew by 13% to 600,000t, despite domestic and export markets facing challenges with stiffening competition, cost inflation and a number of changes in the regulatory environment. Lafarge Zambia expects continued efforts on the customer and cost-control sides to enable the firm to grow profitably and meet the needs of domestic and export customers, with a strong focus on infrastructure and mining projects in Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Rigaux said that Lafarge Zambia's current capacity expansion projects in Ndola and Chilanga would also enable the company to remain the preferred supplier of construction solutions in Zambia and the DRC. He added that cement demand is expected to remain strong for the rest of 2014, saying that innovative products, services and solutions would be introduced as required to satisfy the growing demand in the construction sector.
Zambia: Lafarge Cement Zambia plans to double its cement production capacity from its two local plants to meet the growing demand, according to CEO Emmanuel Rigaux. In 2013, the domestic market for cement grew by 17%, largely driven by the continued increase in government infrastructure projects, mining expansion activities and to a smaller extent by individual home building projects.
"Lafarge Zambia is planning to double its capacity in Ndola and Chilanga through debottlenecking and construction of a new line," said Rigaux. "This will enable us to remain the market leader and preferred supplier of construction solutions in Zambia." Rigaux said that in 2013 production volumes improved by 105,000t to 1.18Mt from 1.07Mt in 2012, representing 9% growth. Volumes are expected to continue to improve on the back of strong growth in the construction industry in both domestic and export markets. Rigaux said that domestic sales volumes grew by 18% in 2013, while export sales volumes declined by 25% due to increased focus on the domestic market.
"The second half of 2013 saw a sharp improvement in operational and industrial results both at both our Ndola and Chilanga plants," said Rigaux. "Lafarge Zambia also implemented targeted cost reductions and logistical optimisations, which enabled us to improve our operating margins." Rigaux said that Lafarge Cement Zambia's financial position and cash flow remained solid with strong cash position and no external debt.
Zambia: Zambian police have allegedly been spotted attempting to seize control of a private residence owned by Valerio Ventriglia, one of the executives ousted from Zambezi Portland Cement (ZPC) company as part of a contested corporate raid by Finance Bank chairman Rajan Mahtani, according to local media.
The reports claim that police officers were seen approaching the property in violation of a court order. Sources said that this was an indication that police are acting in the service of a private businessman against the law. The police raid comes just days after the Ndola High Court ruled that Ndola State did not have any proof linking the construction of the home to money laundering and fraud allegations brought by Mahtani against the founders ZPC.
On 27 June 2014 the Ndola High Court ruled that the Zambian police must hand over the property to its rightful owner or an appointed representative. Failure to carry out the court order would result in a bench warrant issued against the Police Commissioner for failing to obey the Court's Order. After police complied with the order and handed over the house to a representative of Ventriglia, a day later the Police Commissioner informed the representative that Mahtani 'had already spoken to the inspector general of the Zambia Police' and that on 2 July 2014 the police would repossess the property once again against the order of the court.
The ZPC legal saga has featured a number of revelations, including allegations of forged share transfer certificates and an allegedly illegal board of directors meeting to oust the company founders from control of the company. Ventriglia, along with his brother Daniele Ventriglia, were deported from Zambia to Italy in November 2012 despite a court injunction. The police have also played an intricate role in the ZPC dispute, as they refused to serve Andrew Kamanga with an injunction preventing him from acting as managing director of the ZPC, while a force of more than 200 armed officers in full riot gear were deployed to forcefully seize control of the company in December 2012.
Zimbabwe: PPC Zimbabwe reports that its domestic sales for the first five months of 2014 have fallen by 5% compared to the same period in 2013. Managing director Njombo Lekula blamed the drop on a decrease in housing projects.
"For the past few years there has been significant growth in housing, which boosted cement demand, however, the current economic situation is beginning to have an impact on home building activities," said Lekula in comments reported by The Herald.
PPC Zimbabwe now intends to sell its excess production in neighbouring countries. However, Lekula pointed out that Mozambique has a 'very competitive' market due to imports from the Far East via the port of Beira. In addition the cost of logistics to reach this market is an issue for the cement producer. PPC Zimbabwe are also considering targeting Zambia but logistics and the fluctuating price of the Kwacha have posed challenges.
PPC Zimbabwe intends to start building a US$200m cement plant in the north-east of Zimbabwe in 2014. The company has also started constructing clinker grinding plants near Harare and Tete, Mozambique. Currently, PPC Zimbabwe has a cement production capacity of 0.76Mt/yr. The new projects are expected to increase capacity to 1.2Mt/yr.
Africa: Chief Executive Officer at Dangote Cement, Devakumar Edwin said that the company plans to start operations in Sierra Leone, Cameroon and Zambia in 2014. Dangote, which has a production capacity of 20.3Mt/yr in Nigeria, also intends to add 9Mt/yr to production in Nigeria by the end of 2014.
Edwin said that Dangote is currently reviewing its operations in Kenya in light of the discovery of limestone deposits in the country. Dangote plans to increase the capacity of its proposed plant in Kenya from 1.5Mt/yr to 3.0Mt/yr.
"In Ethiopia, work is well underway to build 2.5Mt/yr plant at Mugher, with commissioning expected late in 2014. In Tanzania, we have begun work on a 3Mt/yr plant at Mtwara that will be operational in 2015. In Zambia, work is underway on a 1.5Mt/yr plant at Ndola with cement production expected in the second half of 2014," said Edwin.
The bid to expand is part of the company's long-term expansion strategy across the continent. Dangote has three plants in Nigeria and plans to expand into 13 other African nations, bringing its total capacity to more than 60Mt/yr by 2016. Edwin added that the company is stalling its business plan in South Sudan 'because of military conflict in that nation.'
Dangote recorded a turnover of US$2.3bn in the 2013 financial year, up by 29.4% from US$1.8bn in 2012. Profit before tax was US$1.18bn, compared with US$836m in 2012, while profit after tax rose to US$1.24bn, a 38.73% increase when compared to US$899m recorded in the same period of 2012.
Zambia: Commerce minister Miles Sampa says that the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) is a threat to the planned commissioning of the US$400m Dangote Cement plant in Ndola in July 2014.
ZEMA recently directed the halting of construction of the plant. Sampa said that ZEMA needs to partner with the government in facilitating the much-needed foreign investments to help the country's economy grow.
"If ZEMA looks to stop progress then something is wrong somewhere," Sampa said. "Why in the world, after US$400m has been invested, would ZEMA decide to write to the investor to stop the construction? ZEMA approved the project in 2011."
According to local sources, ZEMA ordered a halt to the construction of the Dangote cement plant over a dispute on tapping water from the nearby Kafubu River. ZEMA contended that tapping water from the river was not in the initially approved Environmental Impact Assessment report when it approved the planned construction of the plant.
"If Dangote break the rule, let's treat them like any other company; the people here need jobs," Sampa said. "Let's not just dance to the tune of those who do not have the interest of the people here. I am appealing to ZEMA in the next seven days to formally write to advise Dangote to continue with the construction or to stop and that should be done within the law."
Sampa said that the new plant would increase competition among cement producers and consequently reduce the cost of the commodity in the country. "The construction industry is eagerly waiting for commercial production and distribution of Dangote cement products at competitive market prices," said Sampa.
Zambia: Zambezi Portland Cement (ZPC) increased its cement production by 5% to 475,000t/yr in 2013 from 452,000t/yr in 2012. ZPC sales and marketing manager Isaac Ngoma said that ZPC had seen its output grow by 25% year-on-year to nearly 70,000t for the first two months of 2014. ZPC has expansion projects planned for 2014 and the company also intends to increase its mining and aggregate sales.