Namibian cement plant to compete in West Africa

In 2007, at the invitation of a group of Namibian entrepreneurs, German cement producer Schwenk Zement KG established Ohorongo Cement (Pty) Ltd. 

Over a construction period of 22 months, this R2.5-billion investment became Africa’s most modern and efficient cement plant and the only cement-producing company in Namibia.

The IDC currently holds a 20% share in Ohorongo Cement; the Development Bank of South Africa, the Development Bank of Namibia and Schwenk Namibia hold the other 80%. In 2012, the IDC advanced further funding to Ohorongo Cement so that the company could purchase Afrisam Namibia, a local cement manufacturer.

The head of the chemicals and allied industries unit at the IDC, Hilton Lazarus, says: “The acquisition of Afrisam Namibia will ensure the sustainability of Ohorongo Cement and boost the supply of cement in Namibia, which currently has no other cement manufacturer.

"This will enable the company to compete in regional markets such as the Southern African Development Community and West Africa, which have seen a jump in demand for cement recently. “We support growth that is environmentally sustainable and creates long-term jobs. Our strategy is to deepen the value chain of the chemicals industry sector in South Africa and beyond.”

Situated in the north of Namibia, close to the village of Otavi, Ohorongo Cement has a capacity of 750 000 tonnes of cement a month and, based on its current limestone reserves, has an estimated lifespan of 300 years.

Two state-of-the-art cement and concrete laboratories conduct around-the-clock monitoring of the production process and quality control of materials and products. The direct and instant exchange of data between the quality assurance and production departments allows for the immediate correction of any divergence from set standards.

Ohorongo Cement has very high environmental standards for its cement production. The plant uses only the best available technology to ensure the lowest energy consumption and emissions possible.

To reduce the carbon footprint of operations even further, the firm has set up a dedicated task team to investigate the use of alternative fuels deemed feasible to work with. Ohorongo Cement’s mother company, Schwenk Zement, uses more than 80% alternative fuels in its European plants.

Ohorongo Cement has a value system in which it strives to produce a high quality product. The three core components of this are collaboration (defined by the company as “working with others in a collective suit of excellence”), responsibility (“aiming to succeed responsibly”) and integrity (“acting honestly, accountably, and respectfully towards others”).

“With Ohorongo’s approach to people, sustainability and first-world standards in project execution, our investment makes sense,” says Lazarus. “Ohorongo Cement is a good example of how we can harness IDC funding to contribute to sustainable development and job creation in the southern African region and Africa as a whole.”

Although this article has been made possible by the Mail & Guardian’s advertisers, content and photographs were sourced independently by the M&G supplements editorial team. It forms part of a larger supplement.

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