Africa's development drives the ceramic market

African production and consumption of ceramic tiles continue to rise, as well as imports from India and Spain, while imports from China registered a sharp slowdown in 2018.

The economic growth (GDP is estimated at +4,1% in 2018 and 2019), together with the rapid urbanisation, the increase of disposable income and consequently the growth of private consumption are fostering the development of the ceramic industry in the African Continent.

In 2017, total tile consumption in Africa reached 920 million sq.m following uninterrupted growth with volumes more than doubling over the previous nine years (CAGR +8.9% 2017/2008). While local production followed a similar trend, increasing from 308 million sq.m in 2008 to 700 million sq.m in 2017 (CAGR +9.5%), it was still insufficient to fully meet demand. As a result, the African continent continues to be the third largest macro-region for world ceramic tile imports.

The percentage of consumption met by imports rose to 55% in the period 2013-2014, then declined gradually over the following years to reach 33% in 2017.

In the period 2015-2018, imports to Africa fell by more than 120 million sq.m, dropping below 300 million sq.m last year.

Around 77% of total 2018 imports were met by the top three supplier countries, namely China, Spain and India, which together exported a total of 230.9 million sq.m to Africa. Spain has a stronger presence in North Africa, whereas China and India are more focused on Sub-Saharan Africa with several shared markets (including South Africa, Senegal, Kenya, Tanzania and Angola).

However, these three countries have seen rather different and even contrasting growth trends.

Whereas India and Spain maintained positive growth in 2018 (respectively +48% and +13% compared to 2017), China – by far the largest exporter to Africa – suffered a sharp slowdown (-20.8%). In some markets the Chinese downturn can partly be explained by competition from India, while in others it is clearly attributable to the greater manufacturing autonomy achieved by local industry.

A case in point is Nigeria, which imported 74 million sq.m from China in 2014 but just 5 million sq.m in 2018, while domestic production has expanded rapidly to reach 100 million sq.m/year. Kenya, Angola, Ghana, Tanzania and Uganda have all reached outputs of between 10 and 30 million sq.m/year as a result of direct and indirect Chinese investments, part of a strategy of offshoring production to the African countries with strongest commercial and investment ties with China.

Read the full article published on Ceramic World Review 132/2019

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