First publishedon www.AggBusiness.com
SBM engineers installing a stone crushing machine at a quarry in the Katani region
The entry of Chinese stone crusher manufacturer SBM into Kenya is helping to transform the aggregates sector in the East African nation and its neighbouring countries, writes Shadrack Kavilu.
The aggregates manufacturing industry in East Africa has undergone a silent revolution in the last five years after a leading Chinese stone crushing machinery manufacturer set up shop in Kenya to provide direct sales, installations and after sale services.
Demand for aggregates in the East African nation and its neighbouring countries has been growing exponentially, fuelled by the supply needs of the government’s mega infrastructure initiatives. A number of major road corridor, port and railway projects are planned or underway in the region.
In Kenya, the country’s massive investment in infrastructure presents a huge opportunity for both local and foreign investors in the construction value chain. Among the investors tapping into the massive opportunity is Chinese stone crushing machinery manufacturer Shibang Machinery (SBM). The firm entered the market with a direct sales model that has created a strong bond between the company and local aggregates producers.
With the direct sales model, the firm is transforming an aggregates market that had low production capacity and had been caught unawares by the massive demand. The firm ships in machines from its manufacturing plants in Shanghai and then markets them to the local quarry investors, saving investors the burden of importing directly from abroad.
SBM is also providing after sales services to local customers as well as supplying installation and training services and spare parts. The company’s shop and its presence on the ground is cutting costs for quarry machinery importers and saving them crucial time that would have been used in the importation process, installation and maintenance costs.
Before the firm’s entry into the region’s aggregates market, local aggregates producers used to import these heavy crushing machines from overseas. These machines occasionally broke down due to the shortage of well-trained or experienced machine operators, or lack of spare parts and maintenance skills. However, SBM is now providing technical skills to its customers and supplying machine maintenance. This makes the company’s products most sought after by local quarry construction investors.
“We no longer have to go to China to get the machines, spare parts or technical advice,” said Bernard Mwaura, a quarry machine operator with TipTop Quarry Limited. "All we need to do is make a call to SBM local office and technical support will be given immediately."
Mwaura says SBM services have helped the quarry maintain its production capacity. “In case of machine breakdown, the Chinese technicians are readily available and come with relevant spare parts saving us the agony of having to import the same from China,” says Mwaura, adding that the real-time services have ensured a continuous production process.
According to SBM officials in Kenya, the company has already sold 30 stone crushers in the region since 2014 when they set up in the country. Most of the installations are concentrated in the Katani area, along Mombasa highway which is the hub for aggregates sold in Nairobi and its environs.
Given the massive envisaged infrastructure development in the region - which includes new ports, public housing, roads and railways projects - SBM sees the demand exploding for raw materials in the construction sector.
“This is the best time to be in East Africa,” said Thomas Wu, SBM Kenya representative. “The aggregates market in the region, in particular in Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, Tanzania, and Democratic Republic of Congo, is growing at unprecedented rate. As a company we needed to strategically position ourselves in this market to bring our expertise and machinery on the ground.”
Wu said the company is bridging the gap between importers and manufacturers, thus ensuring high quality aggregates required to sustain the ever-growing aggregates market. “Our quick installation of these production lines shortens the period of investment returns,” he added.
“We have a one stop shop for all kinds of crushers suitable for this market such as jaw crushers, impact, cone and screen crushers,” said Wu, adding that its presence in the region has given the company a competitive edge over their competitors.
Wu said that the firm’s physical presence on the ground ensures it is in constant and direct touch with its customer needs, which helps them make informed decisions on the type of crushers needed depending on the raw materials available on the site.
“The uptake of our machines by local aggregate producers has been very impressive. We do all types of crushers especially those that have a production capacity of 100 to 200 tonnes per hour,” said Wu, noting that these machine capacities have helped quarry dealers scale up production and quality.