KENYA – Bamburi Cement, an industrial company specialising in cement and concrete, has announced plans to source a portion of its power supply from solar plants in a bid to cut costs and reduce the impact of electricity outages in the main grid.
The company said it has signed a power purchase agreement with MOMNAI Energy Limited to set up two solar plants adjacent to its Mombasa and Nairobi factories. The independent power producer will set up the plants with Bamburi buying directly from it.
The company targets to generate 14.5 megawatts at Bamburi’s Mombasa plant and five megawatts at the Nairobi factory. This will account for 40 percent of Bamburi’s total power supply.
The partial shift to solar is expected to cut the Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed firm’s electricity bill by 10 percent or over KSh600 million (US$5.28m) per annum. It spent KSh6.04 billion (US$53.15m) in 2020 on electricity and alternative energy sources such as rice husks and other waste materials like tyres and oil in its operations.
Bamburi will be the next major manufacturer to shift to solar after East Africa Breweries Plc (EABL) last year announced a KSh22 billion (US$193.58m) investment plan in renewable energy.
“We are elated to be making this step towards switching to more affordable and clean energy that will not only lead to a significant reduction in power costs but also bring us closer to our goal of achieving Net Zero carbon emissions,” said Miriam Ngolo, Bamburi’s strategy and business development director.
Construction of Bamburi’s solar power plant will begin at the end of this year after requisite regulatory approvals and the project is expected to be completed within a year.
The move comes at a time when more consumers are ditching the national electricity distributor Kenya Power following an outcry over high bills and erratic supply.
Kenyan cements expanding to DRC
Kenyan cement companies have stepped up expansion plans with an eye on the estimated 10 million metric tonnes annual demand of cement in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) market.
The East Africa region’s installed cement capacity is currently estimated at 15.6 million tonnes, with 8.6 million tonnes of that figure produced in Kenya according to data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.
Cement firms are expanding their total clinker production capacity by 70 percent to 10.7 metric tonnes per year by 2023 from the current 6.3 metric tonnes as part of their strategy to expand in the EAC region.
East African Portland Cement Company (EAPCC), National Cement, Bamburi Cement, Karsan Ramji & Sons, Rai Cement and Savannah Cement plan to add a total of 4.4 metric tonnes annually to their clinker capacities.
“In the past 10 years, EAPCC has been missing from the infrastructural agenda due to competition among other challenges. Now we have come up with a five-year strategic plan as we want to revamp our operations,” said Oliver M. Kirubai, managing director at the EAPCC.
“We are targeting the East African market, including the DRC. We are getting inquiries from Rwanda as well.”
All the EA countries have infrastructure projects lined up.
The DRC, which is set to join the EAC regional bloc this year, is a country in need of infrastructure development.
Savannah Cement to build clinker production plant
Savannah Cement wants to raise US$350 million (KSh39.7 billion) via a bond on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) to build a clinker production plant.
The firm has been relying on imported clinker – a component that makes up about 70 per cent of cement. It now wants to change this by building its plant.
Savannah plans to put up a clinker plant in Kitui County with a capacity of 8,000 tonnes per day or 2.7 million tonnes annually. Savannah also plans to venture into cement making in neighbouring Uganda.
Apart from DRC, Savannah also exports cement to South Sudan and northern Tanzania.
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