Nigerian lawmakers have urged the government to break the dominance of the country’s three biggest cement makers to encourage more competition and reduce prices by providing more industrial incentives and protection, such as concessionary loans and larger tax incentives for new entrants into cement production.
It said the measures would boost cement production, reduce price and encourage more valuable producers in Nigeria.
The Senate’s resolution was sequel to a motion on Tuesday at the plenary on ‘Need for liberalisation of cement policy in Nigeria,’ sponsored by Lola Ashiru (APC – Kwara) and co-sponsored by five other senators.
Moving the motion, Mr Ashiru noted that cement was one of the few building materials in which Nigeria was self-sufficient.
He added that cement took a large share of domestic expenditure. He further explained that the commodity’s price significantly impacted the government’s ability to provide much-needed infrastructural works required for the economy’s growth.
“The recent increase in the price of cement from N2,600 to N3,800 slowed down the amount of construction work being embarked upon, thus negatively affecting labour engagement.
“The Nigerian cement market is oligopolistic in nature with three players: Dangote (60.6 per cent), Lafarge Africa Plc (21.8 per cent), and BUA Group (17.6 per cent) largely dominating the scene, therefore, making it susceptible to price-fixing practices,” the senator claimed.
“If the status quo persists, the negative consequences of high prices on the economy will outweigh the benefits of producing cement locally,” he argued.
The senator stated further that the significant rise in cement prices in the country and the low purchasing power of Nigerians might result in substandard building construction and non-completion of planned infrastructural works.
Mr Ashiru, therefore, called for an urgent need to encourage more local production of cement to satisfy the demands of Nigerians with a steady growth rate of approximately three per cent per annum.