COVID-19: Voices from the Cement Industry - Interview with Mohamed Naciri

As part of our programme of connecting our global members during the COVID-19 outbreak, WCA is hosting video interviews with our members to discuss the situations in their countries and to find out more about the impacts of the pandemic on the cement industry around the world. Here is an interview with Mr Mohamed Naciri, Deputy GM of CIMAT/Regional MD of CIMAF, Morocco.

 

Video Transcript

 

[How would you characterise the COVID lockdown in Morocco?]

I have to say in comparison to neighbouring countries, Europe, to sub-Saharan African countries, the lockdown is quite strict. It started March 20 and still continues – until today the government has not stopped the lockdown.

 

[What has happened to the economy and cement demand in Morocco?]

Today there is a recovery for the industry and the economy, not completely, not let’s say to the level we were in February because still some businesses are closed but when we discuss the case of cement, yes, today we are at the level of the beginning of March, of the level we were before the lockdown. Some say that it’s a correction and numbers will go down a bit by the end of June/July, some say it’s a recovery and the market will continue, because Morocco, we are normally in the peak season. The things are evolving, we see that many areas, many places where construction companies were stopped have started to work, so I expect that there would be a 2-3 month correction until the ongoing projects finish, then to be honest we will see if new projects come or not.

 

[What is happening in the other countries in which you operate – do you see different patterns to Morocco?]

We’re in mainly in West Africa although we have Gabon, Cameroon and Chad which is considered as central Africa. Other than those, we are in Mauritania, Mali, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Ghana, so mostly west Africa.

It’s more or less similar, we had complete lockdown in Ghana which lasted 2 weeks, not more than that, where the plant was completely stopped because we were asked to. The government decided to lock down the two main areas, which is Accra and Kumasi, the two big cities, so we were stopped. This is the only place where we were asked to stop. Other than Ghana, we had some restrictions but very light ones in comparison with what we have got in Morocco and what we have seen in Europe, which did not impact the market. There was a small reduction of the volumes between 10-20% in most of these countries.

 

[Do you think the changes we have made to travel during COVID will continue long term?]

I’m a big traveller, I used to travel more than 50% of my time before COVID and today I’m suffering a bit from this impossibility to travel. For me video conferences are good but it will never replace a real meeting with the guys in the field, it’s a solution, a temporary solution which has helped and has allowed everybody to continue business, but it will never replace a professional traveller where you meet your people, your customers, the authorities, it will help but never replace.