President Ruto to launch Sh45 billion clinker plant in West Pokot County

Devki’s Cemtec Simba Cement Company

A view of Devki’s Cemtec Simba Cement Company in Sebit, West Pokot County, on April 7, 2024.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The project is expected to cost the investor $220 million (about Sh29 billion).
  • West Pokot residents are upbeat that the massive plant will offer them job opportunities.

The long-awaited launch of the new multi-billion-shilling clinker plant constructed by Cemtec Simba Cement Company in West Pokot County will be held on Monday, with the promise of turning around the economic fortunes of the region.

President William Ruto will commission the Sh45 billion factory that sits majestically at the Sebit limestone mines deposits hills in Kipkomo sub-County, along the Kapenguria-Lodwar highway.

Clinker is the biggest raw material in cement manufacture. After crushing at the new West Pokot plant, it will be transported to a grinding plant in Eldoret town.

The new plant will have the capacity to process an estimated 6,000 tonnes of clinker daily, which translates to two million tonnes annually. The project is expected to cost the investor $220 million (about Sh29 billion).

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga launched the construction of the factory in 2010, but its completion was delayed.

West Pokot residents are upbeat that the massive plant will offer them job opportunities.

“We expect more investors to stream in now,” said Emmanuel Limarusi, a jobless local.

Devki Group Chairman Narendra Raval said on Sunday the company is keen on investing in rural areas, noting the potential of big tech at the grassroots.

Speaking when the Nation Media Group (NMG) staff led by General Manager James Sogoti paid him a courtesy visit at the new company offices on Sunday, Dr Raval said most of Kenya’s big industries are concentrated in Nairobi, noting that this was a result of bad policies.

“We want to invest in all counties. We want to support big tech in rural areas to open up development to create jobs and cause economic revolution at the grassroots,” he said.

He termed cheap imports the greatest threat to the clinker production industry, urging the government to put in place safeguards to boost local production.

“If we bring development to the rural areas, they will be empowered,” he said.

Mining Principal Secretary Elijah Mwangi said royalty from the company will be paid to the national government; 20 percent of it will be channelled back to the host county government, another 10 percent of the total production to the community, and one percent of the revenue collected going to the residents.

Dr Raval, popularly known as Guru, said the cement factory will employ more people directly and indirectly. He said the project will help change the lives of residents as the company will offer corporate social responsibility to locals.

Essential services

“We shall initiate projects like hospitals, water projects and schools. We want to change the image of West Pokot which is associated with guns. The perception about West Pokot has been wrong, from what we have experienced since we started this investment here,” said Dr Raval.

He appealed to the community to support the project noting that they stand to benefit from it in terms of employment, education, and health among other essential services.

He said his group’s dream is to change the lives of the locals through various forms of empowerment as per the community’s needs, promising to pay visits often.

Visiting the site ahead of Monday’s launch, PS Mwangi said the Sh45 billion worth of mining investment is a big boost in opening up job opportunities across the country, with all cement production companies in the country being assured of the availability of the raw material locally.

 “With this kind of investment, once the company goes into full capacity, the clinker demands by the cement factories in the country will have been met and the excess available for export. Currently, the production is enough feed for all cement factories in the country,” said PS Mwangi.

A resident, Augustine Loria expressed confidence that the economic fortunes of the region that has borne the brunt of banditry have changed with the set-up of the plant, which is promising to turn around the West Pokot story.

 “The demand for land to construct rental units has skyrocketed. For instance, a quarter of an acre of a commercial plot here could fetch about Sh700,000. Locals are being hired under operations and maintenance,” he said.

Local traders are hopeful that their businesses will improve.

 “This is a goldmine. We expect to benefit from the riches of our ancestral land,” Mr Loria said.

Felix Loliposia, a resident working at the site as a security guard, sees the new plant as a cure to the perennial banditry crisis, which he associates with limited economic opportunities.

Residential houses

“We expect many young people to migrate from the affected regions to seek jobs and other economic opportunities the project will bring to West Pokot,” said Mr Loliposia.

The Mining PS revealed that the company currently has a capacity of employing 2,500 people, most of whom are from the local community hence a boost to various sectors of the economy.

“The community is going to enjoy immense benefits from this factory as it has already been witnessed since the construction works started. We have seen several residential houses coming up and soon this area will become an industrial centre,” stated the Mining PS, highlighting that the increased transport activities in the area have also been witnessed.

PS Mwangi said residents will also enjoy educational, health, and business support courtesy of the company’s Community Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes calling on the community members to constitute a Community Development Management Committee for the realization of the activities.

Governor Simon Kachapin said the plant will keep youths away from banditry and cattle rustling activities and will be an eye opener for investors hence welcomed by other investors.

Mr Kachapin said the new cement plant will contribute to the development and change of the region.

“This will reduce cattle rustling vices that the neighbouring communities fight over and there will not be a fight between Pokots, Turkanas, and Marakwets,” said Mr Kachapin.

He said the plant will also spur economic growth in West Pokot through employment and other opportunities.

Mr Kachapin also disclosed that the factory will help stimulate other projects in various sectors like roads, health, water, and education.

He said the cement plant will boost businesses, improve the economy, and create jobs for locals.

 “We hope the factory to change the history of the area,” he said.

Sigor MP Peter Lochakapong said the factory will help eradicate poverty in West Pokot County and boost investment and revenue collection.