National WIH Building Materials Holding Company, an Ethiopian and Chinese joint venture (JV) company and the Chinese state owned construction giant Sinoma (Suzhou) Construction, pen an engineering procurement construction (EPC) contract for a cement plant that will be part of over half billion dollars in investment at the Melka Jebdu Industrial Park investment.
During the signing ceremony held on Tuesday April 11, 2023, at Skylight Hotel, Bizuayehu Tadele, Chairperson of the National WIH Building Materials Holding Company, said that the cement plant that will be erected in Melka Jebdu Industrial Park, 19km west of Dire Dawa, which is 510 km of Addis Ababa, will consume USD 243 million.
Currently, the Melka Jebdu Industry Park which houses a total of 106 hectares of space is expected to add steel and lime industries to its portfolio besides the cement factory.
In total, the National WIH Building Materials Holding Company will inject an investment of USD 540 million at the park, which is close to the sea ports.
“We selected the area due to its competitive advantage for the export market and it also has enormous quality resources for cement production. Melka Jebdu is connected with the Ethio Djibouti railway line and it is close for ports in Djibouti and Berbera,” the Chairperson, who also leads the conglomerate, East Africa Holding (EAH), said.
According to the statement of the company, the park will have a capacity to produce three million metric tons of cement per annum, 1,000 metric tons of lime per day and 700, metric tons of rebar. The facility will also accommodate a prefabricated concrete factory that is expected to play an instrumental role in alleviating the housing challenges that the country faces.
Chaltu Sani, Minister of Urban and Infrastructure, said that in the ten year development plan the government targets to construct 4.4 million residential houses in urban areas.
She said that the coming of these kinds of huge input suppliers is crucial to elevate the government’s goal and stabilize the market, “We will provide full support for the project.”
On their recent JV partnership, West International Holding, a subsidiary of China West Cement Limited, a Hong Kong Stock Exchange listed company, and National Cement, a subsidiary of EAH, have been investing in several industries.
Currently under the JV Company, they are developments in the Lemi Industrial Park that is located 130 km north of the capital in Amhara region.
The Lemi project is said to consume USD 600 million. Currently, the construction of the cement plant at Lemi has attained 75 percent completion with the civil works to be fully accomplished within the next two months.
Bizuayehu signaled that the cement factory at Lemi will be fully commissioned for work by the beginning of 2024.
He said that currently the prefabricated houses and concrete factories that are installed at Lemi have reached the test stages, while the gypsum factory will start production by the end of this year.
Sinoma (Suzhou) Construction, which entered the Ethiopian market about a decade ago under EPC project for Dangote Cement, is popular in the development of similar facilities in other parts of the world.
The company has also worked with WIH on huge investments in the Africa and Asia cement industries, for the past over two decades.
WIH is also known for its investments on cement, glass, logistics, prefabricated, and other construction input production. It is also one of the pioneers to be involved on dry processing cement production and has similar plants in five African countries.
The Ethiopian cement facilities is also said to be one of the biggest in the continent when production is kick started.
The JV company has targeted to invest USD 2.2 billion in the manufacturing sectorin the coming few years.