For several weeks, the price of a bag of cement, all brands combined, has gone from 4,600 to 4,800, or even 5,000 F, in many hardware stores in Cameroon. This, we learn, due to an upward revision of the sale price of this product to retailers. The information is confirmed in a “warning” sent on June 29, 2021 to the Director General (DG) of Cimenteries du Cameroun (Cimencam), a subsidiary of the Franco-Swiss-Moroccan consortium LafargeHolcim Maroc Afrique (LHMA), by Luc Magloire Atangana , the Minister of Commerce (Mincommerce). This formal notice clearly indicates, with regard to the specific case of Cimencam products, that at least a first price increase at the factory has already taken place, without the prior agreement of the government.
“I learn from different sources that you are about to proceed with yet another unilateral increase in your prices, in defiance of my previous formal notices and of my hand extended for consultation”, writes Luc Magloire Mbarga Atangana. “I would like to inform you, hereby, that if this measure, which I consider to be distrust and provocation, were to be carried out, I would be obliged to order the placing of seals on your installations, ”he continues. After this barely veiled threat, Mincommerce recalls “that cement is still among the products subject to the prior approval procedure for prices”.
This warning to the LHMA group comes just days after the reception at the Unity Palace, and the decoration by the President of the Republic, of the Nigerian industrialist Aliko Dangote. Indeed, thanks to Dangote Cement Cameroon, which launched its activities in 2015, the richest man in Africa has stolen from Cimencam the leadership in the cement market in Cameroon, in 2017, after 48 years of monopoly. This new friction between LHMA and the government is the second in the space of a year. Indeed, while since June 5, 2020, Xavier Saint-Martin Tillet, the Managing Director (ADG) of the LHMA group, had already informed the Chairman of the Board of Directors (PCA) of Cimencam, Pierre Moukoko Mbonjo, of his plan to renew for 2 years the contract of the current CEO of this subsidiary, Benoît Galichet, Cameroon, who controls 43% of Cimencam’s capital, was firmly opposed.
At the origin of this reluctance of the government, sources familiar with the matter had evoked unorthodox practices installed within Cimencam, which had consisted, in recent years, in exploding the charges of the company, in particular via the imports of materials. raw materials, including clinker and consulting contracts with the Canadian Society for Technical Assistance. All things that have helped reduce the company’s profits, while skillfully expatriating resources.