The company was previously exporting agricultural commodities

Jun 29 , 2019

One of the 11 machines imported for marble cutting and polishing arrives at the new plant owned by Chweani Import & Export Plc, which has invested 41 million Br in machinery.

A Chinese trading company is setting up a marble processing plant with an investment of 130 million Br.

Located in Bahir Dar, Amhara Regional State, the company started production in mid-June with a capacity of processing 400Sqm of polished marble a day. The company sells the marble for a price that ranges between 953 Br to 1,300 Br a square metre. The marble will be supplied to hotels, commercial buildings, residential houses and other construction projects.

Chweani Import & Export Plc has invested 41 million Br to import 11 marble cutting and polishing machines from Turkey. MKS, a Turkish company which has been manufacturing stone, marble and granite processing, cutting and polishing machinery since 1978, has supplied and installed the company's machinery with a two-year guarantee.

For the investment, Chweani borrowed 20 million Br from the Development Bank of Ethiopia. Chweani has also partnered with marble suppliers from the area of Mankush, Guba Wereda, Metekel Zone, Benishangul-Gumuz Regional State.

For the production, the company is buying two containers to transport, 60tn, of marble a day, paying 6,500 Br for one cubic metre of marble from suppliers.

Ethiopia is endowed with marble resources in different places around the country including in Benishangul Gumuz, Tigray and Amhara regional states.

Established in 2010, Chweani has been engaged with the export of agriculture commodities such as grains, oilseeds, pulses and spices. It is also engaged in the construction rental business. The company generates five million dollars a year from the export of oilseeds, pulses and species. It currently operates with 37 workers, which the company will increase to 100 with the marble manufacturing plant.

"The main aim of the company is to substitute imports," said Adugna Alem, general manager, adding that the company plans to export its products after meeting the local demand.

Between 2002 and 2011, on average, the country imported 37,011Sqm of processed marble annually.

In the last fiscal year, the country exported 2,063Sqm of marble from the total national production of 35,137Sqm. About 70pc of the marble is supplied to the local market. In the country, there are three small local producers and eight large companies that secured licenses for the production of marble.

The company received an investment license for the newly-built plant from the Amhara Investment Commission in 2016, joining 416 medium and 110 large industries established with 30 billion Br of investment in Amhara Regional State. These industries have created 25,000 jobs.

The company can play a big role in saving foreign currency through import substitution and stabilising the price of marble, according to Henok Semaw, dean of business & economics at Haramaya University.

But Henok fears that the automated machinery of the company will minimise the job opportunity the company would create, saying that one of the benefits of investment is playing a role in reducing the unemployment rate in the country.

PUBLISHED ON Jun 29,2019 [ VOL 20 , NO 1000]

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