Pretoria Portland Cement says its African expansion plans remain “well on track”, with commissioning of its new operation in Rwanda anticipated at the end of the year and construction at its sites in Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo progressing well. The Johannesburg-listed Cement producer says additional opportunities are currently being pursued to meet its objective of generating 40 percent of its revenues from the rest of the continent by 2017.
Recently, the company acquired a 69.3 percent stake in Safika Cement Holdings for R377 million, which it said had added greater impetus to its strategy of “keeping the home fires burning”. Additionally, at the end of May this year, concrete supplier Pronto Readymix would be wholly owned by PPC.
The company’s trading update comes amid a South African operating environment PPC described as “tough”, limiting growth in the company’s first-quarter cement volumes and price to single digits.
The company stated that growth in cement volumes was also achieved in Zimbabwe, with exports from the country showing a pleasing trend adding that volumes in Botswana continue to be under pressure owing to weak demand and intense competitor activity. Similarly, sales volumes in Mozambique remained weak, owing to the competitive environment, but some increases in selling prices were achieved in these territories.
Further, the group’s lime division was beginning to show a positive trend, while the South African aggregates division had achieved “pleasing” volume growth as a result of increased offtake in road, retail and residential projects. The group added that while the South African trading environment remains tough and highly competitive, it believes that its various response strategies have positioned it well.