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Fight Against COVID-19: New Opportunities For Local Enterprises

From the production of masks to hydro-alcoholic gels, local enterprises are making brisk business from the coronavirus

I n every dark cloud, there is a silver lining as the adage goes. The present pandemic that has hit the entire world holds sway to this age-old adage as local enterprises are now making brisk business from the sale of some accessories necessary in the fight against the Coronavirus. The global health crisis that is claiming hundreds of thousands of lives has come to ignite certain economic activities. Enterprises producing masks, hand sanitizers and water-tap accessories are in the peak of business. In Cameroon, the government in collaboration with the World Health Organisation has taken measures to contain the spread of the deadly virus some of which is the compulsory wearing of masks as from Monday April 13, the regular use of hand sanitizers and or washing of hands within short intervals. These measures have had a serious effect on the demand of masks, hydro-alcoholic gels for hand sanitizing and accessories for hand washing. Following these anti-coronavirus measures, prices of nose masks surged just like that of hand sanitizers. Sanitizers that used to be sold at FCFA 1000 suddenly increased to FCFA 1,500, FCFA 2,000 and even FCFA 2,500 depending on the locality. Despite the price hike, demand suddenly outweighed supply.

With high demand and the difficulty to import masks for instance from China prompted the local enterprises and business ventures to indulge in the production of masks and hand sanitizers. The Israeli Embassy in Yaounde in collaboration with the National Advanced School of Polytechnic announced the mass production of 400 masks per day to assist government in protecting health workers. Cameroon’s Ministry of Mines, Industry and Technological Development was on the field in Douala recently to give the specific characteristics of the locally fabricated masks. On this note, the national textile company (CICAM) embarked on the production of 15 million made-in Cameroon masks per month. Other enterprises are also into the business as well as artisanal dressmaking workshops that are now producing masks. The average cost of these locally manufactured masks ranges between FCFA 300 to 500.

In every nock and cranny in the nation’s capital, Yaounde, vendors are selling water containers adapted to function as water-taps for the washing of hands. A vendor at Olezoa neighbourhood told CBT that there is brisk business at this time. A 5-litres container (the smallest) sells at FCFA 7,000 while 10-litres can be bought at FCFA 13-14000. As far as hand sanitizers are concerned, the Douala University Institute of Technology has been in the production of hydro-alcoholic gels since the pandemic erupted. Officials of IUC Douala are upbeat that the production of the hand sanitizer gels which cost from FCFA 300 to 4,000 will continue till when it will no longer be required. The production of 250ml gel quadrupled from 100 to 400 bottles per day in just two weeks following the high demand.

Furthermore, the use of chloroquine + azithromycin in the treatment of the COVID-19 pandemic has been approved by the Ministry of Public Health given that it worked in France, United States of America and elsewhere. Thus, the government has ordered the National Institute of Medical Research to produce these tablets. According to the Minister of Scientific Research and Innovation, the Institute is capable of producing 6000 tables of chloroquine per minute. At press time, raw materials for the production of the drug has already been ordered from India. At press time, Cameroon has recorded 848 cases of Coronavirus according to the Ministry of Public Health, with over 90 healed and at least 12 deaths registered.

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