Zimbabwe: Commission of Lafarge Cement Plant to Boost Construction Industry

The commissioning of the US$2.8m dry mortar mix plant is set to boost the country’s construction industry and economy as a whole. 

By Diana Wachira on
3rd July 2021

In April 2021, President Mnangagwa commissioned the plant under phase one of Lafarge Cement Zimbabwe’s three-phase expansion program. This expansion program was launched in 2019, and has a total investment plan of $25m. Lafarge Cement Zimbabwe is a subsidiary of Switzerland-based LafargeHolcim.

The construction of this plant will incredibly increase the range and quantities of raw materials for use with the latest building technologies. It will also provide additional lime for water treatment and agricultural activities. 

This new dry mortar mix plant was procured from Turkey. It is currently the largest of its kind in Southern Africa. This plant is also the first of its kind to be installed in any LafargeHolcim operation in the African continent. 

Once the production starts, the dry mortar mix production will increase from 7 tonnes to 100,000 tonnes annually.

The new plant is capable of producing mortar for 3D printing - Lafarge’s new technology. 3D printing will reduce costs by 40% and increase the speed of construction by 70% compared to conventional methods. Using 3D printing technology, the construction of a house can take as little as 12 hours. The 3D printer is expected to be available in the third quarter of this year through 14Trees, a subsidiary of LafargeHolcim. 

Speaking at the commissioning ceremony of the new plant, Zimbabwe's President Mnangagwa said "Consequently, this will have a far-reaching impact on the attainment of targets set out in National Development Strategy 1 with regards to community-based infrastructure development under devolution."

"The construction of housing units, modernization, and upgrading of our ports of entry and other social service infrastructure will also be timely completed.” President Mnangagwa added. The President noted that projects such as the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme, housing delivery, dam construction, provision of social amenities, workspaces for SMEs, and many more would be completed faster than expected. 

This is thanks to the availability of a range of materials that will be produced locally. This new plant will also increase the production of floor materials, tile adhesives, waterproofing solutions, plasters, and agricultural lime. 

This investment will also increase the nation’s exports in light of adopting the African Continental Free Trade Area. Because almost all raw materials at Zimbabwe’s Lafarge are local-based, the rules of origin would allow free-trade exports. 

The President said, "These investments by Lafarge Cement Zimbabwe are indeed groundbreaking and dovetail with my administration's call to adopt and adapt innovation and technology in all sectors.”

"Our arms remain outstretched to welcome investors from across the world" said President Mnangagwa. "My Government continues to implement a broad array of the ease of doing business reforms and improving the overall investment climate. In addition, pertinent issues around economic competitiveness, cost drivers in value chains across all sectors of the economy are being interrogated and reviewed.

The main contractor for construction of the plant is Varlik, a Turkish company. However, in line with the goals of Zimbabwe's National Development Strategy 1 (2021 to 2025) (NDS1) plan to promote new enterprise development, employment and job creation, four local contractors were also involved in the construction of the plant. The four local contractors are AGES, GEC, Sinoma and Wcrane. AGES in particular received both technical and financial support through Zimbabwe Platinum Holdings' local enterprise development programmes.

Photo: Building Construction Works going at a project site (Libin Jose | Dreamstime)

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