By Jude Njoku
With barely two weeks to the expiration of the 60-day window given by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria, SON, to cement manufacturers in the country to comply with the new cement standards, Dangote Cement Company PLC, which has been in the vanguard of the crusade for cement standardization in Nigeria, last week, unveiled plans to launch its own brand of the premium 32.5 cement grade.
The announcement which was made by the company’s Group Managing Director, Mr. Devakumar Edwin at a media briefing in Lagos, attracted mixed reactions from journalists who recalled that the company had insisted on the production of the 42.5 grade of cement because the 32.5 mpa is considered to be of lower quality.
Edwin however rose to the defence of his company, insisting that they ventured into the production of the 32.5 grade because SON had clearly stated that it should be used only for plastering purposes.
According to him, Dangote Cement’s concern for safety of end-users has been addressed by SON with the newly rolled out standards.
He noted further that the pressure from its numerous customers, compelled the company to commence the production of the 32.5 grade which would sell at N200 less than the price of the 42.5 grade.
The reduction in prices, according to him, shows that those manufacturing it (32.5) had been profiteering because the cost of production is lower when compared with the cost of producing 42.5 grade.
The new product which has been branded “Dangote Cement 1X”, Edwin stated, was in response to popular demand from the customers as well as in full compliance with the SON directive encouraging production of all grades of cement but with clear labeling on the use.
He explained that the entrance of the 32.5 cement grade from Dangote would ensure that the consumer pays the appropriate price for the right value rather than paying more for lower grade as is presently the case in the market.
According to the Dangote Cement GMD, the 32.5 cement grade would be clearly marked in the colour prescribed by the SON with the uses for which it should be applied, which is purely for plastering.
Vanguard Homes & Property recalls that both the National Assembly and SON has endorsed the new cement standards. According to SON, “ the 32.5 grade is for plastering only while the 42.5 grade could be used in casting of beams, slabs and block moulding. Similarly, the 52.5 grade is meant for the construction of bridges, and specialised applications.
The Dangote Cement boss disclosed that the company is currently reviewing the selling prices of its products with intent to reduce them and make the products available with the recent commissioning of additional six million metric tons per annum lines 3 and 4 in Ibese, Ogun state and another three million metric ton capacity additional line 4 at Obajana, Kogi state.
His words: We have significantly increased the supply of cement to the market and as it is expected the enhancement in supply of the product to the market has also resulted to a reasonable reduction in the price of the product.”
The company is also pushing out the 52.5 grade for specialised construction of high strength structures such as bridges, flyovers among others.
Edwin also informed that it will continue with its nationwide campaign and capacity building which it initiated and has sustained for the past 3 years, to ensure that the different grades of cement are easily identified by users and used only for their prescribed purposes.
He allayed fears that the 32.5 grade being produced by the company would be misapplied by end-users.
According to him, SON has set up a high-powered monitoring team to ensure compliance with the new standards.
“The 32.5 grade on the Dangote shelf will be clearly labelled as such, in order to prevent the problem of misapplication and misuse of the product,” he assured
The Pan-African cement company with presence in 16 African countries, is today producing locally at a combined installed capacity of 29.25 million mtpa from its three plants at Obajana in Kogi State, Ibeshe in Ogun State and Gboko in Benue State.
The company’s cement plants in Cameroon, Senegal and Ethiopia are all expected to commence production later this year.