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Nigeria’s High Prices for Cement are Part of a Continent-wide Trend

Nigerian property developer Olawale Ayilara is building housing estates in the affluent Lekki district of mega city Lagos, the country’s commercial engine. But the cost of the project is expanding rapidly due to the increased price of cement. The price of a 50 kg (110 lb) bag of cement rose by a third, from 2,500 naira ($6.57) to 3,600 naira ($9.46) around November last year, he said. Lawmakers last month said the dominance of three large firms was keeping prices high and impeding construction needed to aid the recovery of Africa’s largest economy. Nigeria, where a third of the labour force is unemployed, emerged from its second recession in four years in late 2020. Dangote Cement, founded by Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, has 60.6% market share. Lafarge Africa accounts for 21.8%, while BUA Cement has 17.6%. Their dominance stems from a cement import ban that has been in place for most of the last 20 years to develop self-sufficiency in cement production. Cement firms raised prices during Nigeria’s 2016 recession to counter low sales volumes, and price have continued to rise.