(Business in Cameroon) - Today January 13, in Kribi, Cameroon’s Minister of Mines Gabriel Dodo Ndoké is presiding over a workshop organized to present the feasibility and key actors’ mobilization studies in the framework of a project aimed at installing a bitumen production plant in Cameroon. Carried out by SAIPEM, a subsidiary of Italian oil giant ENI, the feasibility study was ordered by Cameroonian firm All Bitumen Cameroon Plc, initiator of the plant construction project.
The planned production capacity is 250,000 tons of bitumen annually. To obtain the raw material needed for production, the project provides for the construction of a mini oil refinery plant able to refine 10,000 barrels of oil daily. According to Ahmadou Oumarou, Managing Director of All Bitumen Cameroon Plc, by producing 250,000 tons of bitumen yearly, the plant will help end the importation of this product into Cameroon (the country officially imports 50,000 tons of bitumen yearly) therefore bridging the trade deficit by about XAF300 billion.
According to construction experts, locally produced bitumen will also reduce road construction costs by 30% (Ed.note: Cameroon is currently one of the African countries with the highest per kilometer road construction cost). The plant will also facilitate the conquest of growth markets. The growth markets targeted by the feasibility study are Nigeria, Chad, Gabon, and the DRC.
The bitumen plant will be built on a 60-hectare site being allocated in the industrial zone of the Kribi deep seaport. The initiator of the project explains that 300 to 400 direct jobs and about 1500 indirect jobs will be created with the various components of the projects (oil refinery, the production of bitumen, and by-products like diesel and kerosene, which will all be sold in the local and regional market).
Overall, the project will require about XAF100 billion investment. Close to 30% of the funds will be provided by All Bitumen shareholders. To raise the remaining envelope from local banks and international backers, the firm contracted French investment banker AM Capital as its financial advisor.
According to credible sources, discussions are ongoing with pan-African financial institutions like the African Development Bank (AfDB) and African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank).
"If all the involved parties comply with the commitments taken, we will lay the foundation stone by December 2022. The construction works will last between 24 and 36 months," says Ahmadou Oumarou. The CEO of All Bitumen Cameroon Plc also praised the support provided by the Cameroonian government adding that the promoters of the projects are willing to transfer part of the stakes to the state, given the “strategic nature” of the plant being planned.
Brice R. Mbodiam