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Inside Ethiopia: Chinese Ceramic eyes export markets

Stretching on a 26,000 sq. m. factory shade at the Eastern Industry Zone, the Chinese DI YUAN Ceramics PLC has started to ship flooring and wall tiles to Somaliland and Djibouti this week, making good on its promise to target neighboring markets in the regions.

During an exclusive visit to the factory floor on Wednesday, Zang Hui Jian, factory manager of DI YUAN, told The Reporter that the factory has a potential of manufacturing 60,000 sq. m. tiles per day, capable of tiling some 600 houses. But, the current production levels are limit to 40,000 sq. m. per day owing to their recent introduction to the Ethiopian market.

Having started production last year, DI YUAN has been instrumental in stabilizing market prices of ceramics in Ethiopia, already. According to Leo Liu, sales manager at DI YUAN, market price for imported 60*60 mm ceramic tile ranged between 400 and 450 birr back when they joined the market. Through mass productions and huge boost to supply, DI YUAN has managed to penetrate the local market and dampen prices to 220 birr per tile.

The company, with its excess stock of 1.5 million sq. m. of ceramics, has decided to start exports to Somaliland and Djibouti, early this week. According to Liu, as an entry point to these markets, some 4,000 sq. m. tiles or two trucks full of consignments has been exported to these countries. The likes of Sudan, South Sudan and Kenya are under considerations, Liu also told The Reporter.

Sourcing 98 percent of its raw materials locally, the plant depends on coal as a core source of energy. Jian says, the factory burns 150 tons of coals every day and uses additional 65,000 to 70,000 kilowatt-hours electricity per day (kwh/day).

Having invested USD 6.3 million in the factory, out of the total USD 218 million planned investment in Ethiopia, DI YUAN is finalizing another manufacturing plant which is expected to start manufacturing Light-Emitting Diode (LED), making up the two lead semiconductor light sourcing bulb, at its existing plant in Dukem. The production will commence this year, Liu said.

Though there are a few local manufacturers involved in the production of tiles in Ethiopia, the size and production capacity of DI YUAN is huge that it has become a dominant player and instrumental in substituting imports. However, luxury and expensive tiles which market players call polished porcelain tiles are not yet part of the product types DI YUAN manufactures in Ethiopia.


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