Bangladesh cement industry being one of the fastest-growing cement markets in the world has seen double-digit growth over the last decade. The per capita cement consumption has also increased following this trend from 95 kg (2011) to 187kg in 2018. This massive growth of the industry was backed by the massive infrastructure investment by the government, growing remittance income, rising urban population, and impressive GDP growth.
In these difficult days, we all have more time to take on some of the tasks that we have set ourselves but always found a reason, real or imagined, not to carry out. This could be job related, updating the database with the hundreds of business cards that you picked up at recent INTERCEM meetings, or getting round to email that contact you made a few months back and always meant to ask him/her about the family member who wasn’t well.
The global pandemic that we are currently living through has us considering what commentators call a Black Swan event and how the cement sector manages, reacts and adapts to this type of development. The events of the last month (and the coming months) may have long-term impacts on the sector, necessitating new working practices, new technology to be implemented and new thinking in the way businesses operate. It may be that changes already being driven by increased digitalisation and environmental awareness across the sector are accelerated – or we may see completely new practices and business structures emerge.
Just like any other economy, COVID 19 has also put lot of stress on already fragile Pakistan Economy. With a country wide lock down of 15 days as declared by the provincial governments, the movement of all the goods, except food items, have been severely affected. Most of the industrial units across Sindh and Punjab are now in shut down phase and it seems that this period would continue till at least 12th April 2020. Cement sector is no exception, as out of 25 plants across country 11 plants are at complete shutdown / closure phase and remaining 14 plants are in partial shutdown phase.
Across the globe, multiple internationally renowned commentators are speculating on the impacts of the global pandemic COVID-19 on the future of globalisation, as governments and companies strengthen their capacity to cope with extended periods of economic self-isolation. This is a huge subject, with massive socio-political, geopolitical and economic connotations and it will likely be that it is up to historians in fifty or a hundred years to make the final assessments, however, that fact that this conversation is happening now tells us something, as do the wild conspiracy theories that circulate across the internet which suggest an increasingly vocal mistrust in foreign powers and the existing international order.