Displaying items by tag: Zambia
Zambia: Following the resumption of management at Zambezi Portland Cement (ZPC) by the original company founders, Antonio Ventriglia and Manuela Sebastiani on 8 April 2015, the cement plant was discovered to be in extraordinary disrepair, having suffered much costly damage under the previous management.
According to sources at ZPC, numerous pieces of large machinery and vehicles have been damaged beyond repair under the stewardship of former managing director Andrew Kamanga, who was later succeeded by Peter Kanaganayagam.
Both Kamanga and Kanaganayagam were appointed to run ZPC in late 2012 following a disputed board meeting that took place after other company directors had been deported from the country under suspicious circumstances that were recently reversed by the courts. Both directors' lack of qualifications and experience in operating a cement plant was criticised by a number of employees at the plant.
"Just a few years ago this was a world-class cement company, the best in Zambia, but now Rajan Mahtani, Kamanga and Kanaganyagam have almost run it into the ground," said one of the plant's engineers. "Not only have they neglected and destroyed valuable equipment worth millions of dollars, they have also issued a series of fake invoices for replacement parts as part of a ongoing scam. There is no way that any responsible manager would let so much valuable equipment go to waste."
According to sources at ZPC, such a level of destruction was made possible because of alleged unscrupulous purchase contracts for spare parts from suppliers that had no capacity to fulfil the orders. "We saw Kanaganayagam take millions of dollars worth of kickbacks by awarding these bogus contracts for spare parts that never arrived, one of these companies being Zamrock Zambia Limited," alleged one employee who worked closely with management in the sales office.
Kanaganayagam has since fled Zambia shortly following the court decision to reverse the deportation orders against the company's true owners. Mahtani, who was found to owe a large amount of unpaid taxes to the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA), is currently believed to be in hiding in Canada, according to local media.
Zambia: Lafarge Zambia will begin work on the US$217m expansion of its cement plant in Lusaka in 2015 despite the recent opening of Dangote's cement plant in the country and slow regional economic growth.
Construction will start in the second half of 2015 and be completed in 2018, according to Emmanuel Rigaux, chief executive of the plant. The work will double Lafarge's cement production capacity to 2Mt/yr.
Lafarge's expansion and Dangote's new plant are not expected to cause a cement glut in Zambia, mainly because of demand from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo. "The growth there is massive, in fact it's even higher than in Zambia," said Rigaux.
Chinese and Zambian officials also appear to be planning the construction of a cement plant in Zambia: Find story here.
Zambia/China: Chinese firms have made a commitment to accelerate investment in Zambia under agreements valued at a combined US$800m. The deal was signed by the Zambia-China Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone and 11 companies in Beijing. One of the 11 Chinese firms is West China Cement Ltd, which will set up a cement plant in the zone.
"Zambia hopes to attract more Chinese investors and tourists to improve economic development," said Zambian president Edgar Lungu, adding that his government will provide 'strong support' to Chinese companies. Zan Baosen, general manager of the zone, said that Zambia offers many incentives to Chinese companies. "We are eager to cooperate with Chinese entrepreneurs to explore the market potential in Zambia," he said.
Zambia: The chief executive officer of Zambezi Portland Cement (ZPC), Peter Kanaganayagam, has fled Zambia following a High Court decision relating to the contested ownership of the US$160m company.
Kanaganayagam, who was appointed to run the company following the controversial takeover by the financier Rajan Mahtani, announced to staff at the company that he would be 'seeking medical treatment' in Australia 'for at least four months.' However, Kanaganayagam's decision to flee Zambia comes within hours of a High Court decision reversing the illegal deportations of ZPC executives Daniele Ventriglia and Valerio Ventriglia and restoring their residency permits as well as those of Antonio Ventriglia and Claudio Ventriglia.
Despite obtaining court injunctions against the deportations, the two company directors were forced to leave their country of birth with only four hours notice in November 2012. In the new ruling by High Court Judge Mubanga Kondolo SC, it was found that the immigration authorities failed to give requisite notice of at least 48 hours for the applicants to make representations and as such as the revocation of their residency permits was 'void and had no effect.'
"It is declared that the applicants were and are entitled to continue enjoying their status as permanent residents in Zambia as they did prior to the said decision being communicated to them," said the judge.
The court's decision may have an important impact on the struggle for control of ZPC. Following the deportations on 22 December 2012, Mahtani convened an illegal board meeting in the absence of the company's management and unlawfully appointed Andrew Kamanga as CEO, who was later followed by Kanaganayagam. Now that the court has found that the Ventriglias can return to Zambia and reclaim their ownership of ZPC, there are concerns that all the illegal appointments by Mahtani could be reversed, which is why many employees believe that Kanaganayagam chose to flee.
The dispute regarding the alleged theft of Zambezi Portland Cement by Mahtani has been fraught with disclosures of forgeries, fraud, corruption and even criminal charges.
Zambia: Scirocco Enterprises Limited has entered into an agreement with a consortium to construct a state-of-the-art cement plant in Lusaka's Makeni area at cost of US$200m. Scirocco Enterprise managing director Moustafa Saadi said that the cement plant would have the capacity to produce 2500t/day of cement. He added that the company, Amaka Cement Industries Limited, had been incorporated in Zambia.
Saadi said that Scirocco has entered into an agreement with a Chinese firm and an international funder to carry out the project. "The agreement has been signed and feasibility study is being undertaken to establish the viability of the project. As soon as the exploration work that needs to be carried out is finalised, an environmental impact assessment will be carried out to comply with the prevailing laws," said Saadi. "We expect that the process can be concluded quickly without any undue delays. We are looking forward to the support of our community and various government institutions to facilitate the process in order to begin the physical work."
According to Saadi, the plant will be modern and efficient and will exceed all the environmental regulations in Zambia and have a positive impact on the economy of the area and the nation as a whole. He said that construction of the plant is earmarked to start in September 2015 and it is expected to be completed by 2017. Amaka Cement Industries would produce two grades of cement for the local and international markets. 500 people will be engaged during the construction period and 200 people will be employed on a full time basis once production starts.
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.