BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
PPC Zimbabwe managing director, Kelibone Masiyane said on Thursday that the country’s largest cement maker had invested almost US$120 million across its Zimbabwean operations to ramp up production.
The firm operates a clinker plant at Colleen Bawn near Gwanda and cement milling plants in Harare and Bulawayo.
Masiyane projected a robust economic rebound, which will stimulate strong demand as construction projects get back on track.
The PPC boss said there had already been signals of a swing back to stability after demand surged in the past quarter, underpinned by public infrastructural deals.
But he spoke a few hours before the markets were rattled by jitters after government announced wide-ranging regulations and penalties to punish firms that were accused of manipulating the exchange rate.
The reaction to the shocking move was swift, with some products’ prices spiralling within hours.
The markets were still digesting the potential impact of the radical reforms at the weekend, but for now, the PPC boss said the firm was positioning itself for fresh opportunities to be unlocked under the new era.
“Excluding the Harare plant (US$82 million), we have re-invested in our plants right from Colleen Bawn to our Bulawayo plant over US$35 million to improve operational efficiencies,” Masiyane told NewsDay Business.
He said PPC’s priorities in the aftermath of the COVID-19-induced lockdowns remained the same — to provide enough cement to help Zimbabwe rebuild its struggling economy.
“Mostly our priorities remain unchanged,” said the PPC MD.
“We will fulfil our mandate as a business to play our part in the infrastructural development of our country. Right now, you can see that Zimbabwe is on a growth trajectory and cement demand is a good indicator of that growth and as PPC we want to be part of that growth. Our philosophy is that we don’t just sell a bag of cement, but we sell a home, a bridge, a school, a dam, etc and that is what we call in PPC terms, strength beyond,” he added.
“We see our volumes growing compared to last year in line with Ministry of Finance projections. Government is investing heavily in terms of infrastructural development and this will drive our volumes going forward,” Masiyane told this paper.
He said PPC had posted strong first quarter recoveries as the COVID-19 scourge appeared to be under control, with abandoned projects being revived.
Projects were frozen most of 2020, as government announced hard lockdowns to tackle the pandemic that was turning economies upside down, claiming a string of casualties along the way.
Demand for cement collapsed, hitting revenues and clobbering volumes across sectors.
In the aftermath of lockdowns, construction market jitters were compounded by reports of shortages.
Masiyane told NewsDay Business that despite the jitters PPC surpassed targets by 5% during the first quarter due to strong demand.
“We have experienced a phenomenal surge in terms of sales volumes despite the challenging operating environment,” Masiyane said.
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