Chinese-invested company vows to help Botswana cut cement imports

GABORONE, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) -- Cheetah Cement Botswana (Pty) Ltd, a Chinese-invested manufacturing company based in the outskirts of Francistown, Botswana's second-largest city, has vowed to play a crucial role in helping Botswana cut its cement imports to zero.

Botswana needs 620, 000 tonnes of cement annually and the southern African country has been heavily relying on imported cement before the Chinese company was set up, Hui Ming, the company's general manager, told journalists Tuesday.

"We are earmarking an annual output of 900,000 tonnes of cement as of next June," said Hui during a media tour of the manufacturing plant organized by the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC), Botswana's investment and trade promotion authority.

Cheetah Cement, which was lured into setting up a plant in Botswana by BITC, is a dry method process Portland cement and clinker production line with the aim of significantly reducing Botswana's import bill of building materials, he said.

With an investment of 40 million U.S. dollars, Cheetah Cement started production earlier this year in February and the current production is 3,000 tonnes of cement per month, according to Hui.

Hui said the company is looking forward to producing more than what is needed in Botswana with the aim of exporting the cement to other markets like Botswana's northeastern neighbor Zimbabwe.

For the first time in the history of Botswana, thousands of tonnes of cement will be exported to regional markets, Keletsositse Olebile, the BITC chief executive officer, told a panel of journalists during the media tour.

"Botswana will reduce the import bill by over 90 million U.S. dollars on annual basis if we are to produce our own cement," said Olebile. Besides import bill reduction, Olebile said the cement plant is expected to create 200 more direct jobs as of June next year.

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