BETA Bricks, Zimbabwe’s largest clay brick maker is investing about $10 million in building a factory in Goromonzi – about 40 kilometres east of Harare – as it seeks to double capacity to meet growing demand, chief executive officer Godfrey Manhambara has said.
The factory — with annual capacity of 180 million bricks — is expected to be completed in two years and will create about 400 direct jobs. The company’s three factories in Mt Hampden in western Harare have annual capacity of about 170 million bricks.
“Beta Bricks will be investing between US$8 and US$10 million in core and support plant and equipment over the next two years towards establishment of the Melfort plant,” Mr Manhambara said in e-mailed responses to questions by The Herald Business.
“At its completion, the plant will be the most advanced brick factory in Zimbabwe and one of the largest in sub Saharan Africa. The latest technology in clay brick manufacturing and systems will be incorporated in the factory.”
Apart from direct employment, the offshoot businesses are also expected to create more jobs.
The growing demand for bricks, partly driven by increased construction activity across the country, has seen brick makers struggling to satisfy the domestic market.
Speculators also took advantage of pricing distortions arising from the fixed exchange rate, which pegged the United States dollar against all forms of local currencies at par.
Mr Manhambara said the site of the factory had suitable soils for brick production and its proximity to key markets as well as road and rail infrastructure made it an ideal location.
“We have also responded positively to Goromonzi Rural District Council’s re-branding exercise in line with the ‘Zimbabwe is open for business’ mantra,” said Manhambara.
“Beta Bricks is therefore expecting and very hopeful of getting maximum enabler support from ZESA, Zimbabwe National Road Authority, the central Government and the local district council to ensure that this project is timeously executed.”
Beta Bricks is currently the market leader in the clay bricks supply industry. It is projecting further growth in demand in the short to medium term as the restructuring of the economy over the next there to four years is expected to drive sales.
“Beta Bricks will consolidate its leadership position even further and will maintain its position as the second largest clay brick manufacturer in Sadc,” Mr Manhambara said.
Beta Brick is a subsidiary of Beta Holdings, which also incorporates Beta Concrete and BETA Logistics. Beta Bricks is the first brick manufacturing entity in Zimbabwe to receive international certification for integrated International Standards Organisation (ISO) management systems.
These include ISO 9001:2008 (Quality Management System), ISO 14001:2004 (Environmental Management System) and OHSAS 18001:2007 (Occupational Health and Safety Management System).
In addition, all Beta Bricks products are also approved by the Standards Association of Zimbabwe. Beta Bricks is the flagship of the Beta Group being the largest subsidiary both by production and market share.
The company offers a range of clay bricks ranging from the popular common brick and over 21 different types of face bricks. The company currently operates a Steele 50 and Steele 75 plant as well as a specials (facebrick) plant in Mt Hampden.
The Mount Hampden factories are operating at 90 percent capacity producing about 170 million bricks annually.