Nigeria: How Mira Cement is challenging Dangote in Cameroon

By Omer Mbadi
Posted on Monday, 24 October 2022 16:08

Three of the continent's richest industrialists are cement magnates. Here, the Rufisque cement plant of Sococim Industries, 30 km east of Dakar © Youri Lenquette

Dangote Cameroon – owned by Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote – is being pushed around on Cameroon turf. Since August, it has been neck-and-neck in second place in terms of production capacity on the local market with Mira Cement. The subsidiary of the Lebanese-Chinese group Mira, represented by Helen Lu and Hassan Mortada, has tripled its capacity to 1.5m tonnes.

Two years ago, Mira Cement decided to invest nearly 30bn CFA francs ($46m) in a second packaging line, which began a shake-up in the sector.

Moroccan Cimaf (owned by Addoha group), with a capacity of 500,000tn, is soon to increase it to 1.5m tonnes, while Medcem Cameroun trails behind with 600,000tn.

With its planned investment of 120bn CFA francs to install a 700,000tn unit in the north of the country, Mira is set to take the lead from Cimenteries du Cameroun (Cimencam, owned by LafargeHolcim) later this year. Cimencam has a production capacity of 2.2m tonnes.

This situation will be short-lived, as Cimencam says it will be able to produce 2.5m tonnes by the end of 2023, by adding 300,000tn to the capacity of its Figuil plant in the Northern Region. Two other producers are due to start operations, including the cement plant of Ivorian tycoon Bernard Koné Dossongui in the port area of Kribi.

In the wake of this, Mira Cement has decided to reduce its prices to wholesalers. The news was announced enthusiastically by the commerce minister, Luc Magloire Mbarga Atangana, who hopes that it will be passed on to the consumer. With this approach, Mira is sailing against the tide of its competitors, grouped together in the Association des Producteurs de Ciment du Cameroun (APCC).

‘We can afford it’

The APCC is arguing for an increase, given the high cost of inputs and the upward revision of the price of energy recently imposed on local cement manufacturers. “We are looking at this carefully and will not be surprised if this decrease is offset by benefits in return,” says a competitor.

Adnen Bouattour, the commercial director of Mira Cement, disagrees. “If I have 1.5m tonnes, I can afford this concession by counting on the volume effect,” he argues. The Tunisian points to two other assets. The clinker quarry recently licensed to Mira in Limbé, in the South-West Region, reduces its dependence on importing this input by almost 60%.

The other advantage, that the group shares with Dangote, is the internal fleet of 500 trucks managed by Mira Transport, which allows savings in the distribution of its products in Cameroon. “We plan to double this fleet in six months’ time,” Bouattour adds.

In addition to increasing capacity, Mira Cement is diversifying its products with the help of the Tunisian company Oasis Ciment, adding 32.5 cement and soon cement glue to its range. Mira’s goal is to take at least 35% market share, compared to the current 20%.

The second-largest subsidiary of the Nigerian cement manufacturer has been under attack on the local market in terms of production capacity

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