Rwanda could, effective next month, start saving $17 million (Rwf17 billion) import receipts on mosquito bed nets from foreign manufacturers.
In 2015, the country succumbed to a scam involving purchase of 2.6 million fake imported mosquito nets worth Rwf9 billion which were distributed to the population.
“We will start production this month with at least eight million nets annually for Rwanda. The bigger plan is to supply the rest of Africa and we already have orders from Angola and Namibia and the production will depend on orders coming in,” said Richard Rutayisire – Managing Director of Vision Garment Ltd, which has a tender to supply mosquito nets for Rwanda.
Vision Garments, which has partnership with a Chinese-based company Fujian Yamei ltd, is also one of the 13 companies permitted by the World Health Organization (WHO) to produce and supply mosquito bed nets globally.
So far, Rwf38billion has been invested in the Vision Garment operations which also include financing other two sister companies that will produce dustless chalk, and a local clothing plant under the made-in-Rwanda agenda.
Central Bank numbers indicate that the country’s formal trade increased by 12.4% – mostly triggered the rise of import bill by 9.5% outweighing the 5.5% increase in export earnings. The increase, Central bank said in its recently released numbers, was pushed by ongoing mega projects including Bugesera International Airport, among others.
But in the health sector, experts believe, the new local mosquito manufacturing plant makes a downward shift in import bill – on top of Pharmaceutical plants under construction to provide locally manufactured drugs.
Officials told KT Press that the idea behind manufacturing of local products was due to substandard or fake mosquitoes shipped into the country.
“We conceived the idea of starting a mosquito net plant as a response to the problem of substandard nets on the local market. We are confident that with the commitment and government closely monitoring our activities, we will produce high quality products,” said Jean Bosco Rwigema Minega, the Vision Garment Board chairperson.
In order to start a fully-fledged mosquito nets production, Vision Garment today signed a memorandum of understanding with Rwanda Polytechnic (RP) to start training local production line staff as part of creating more jobs for youth under the National Employment Program (NEP), driven by Workforce Development Agency (WDA).
Under the agreement, at least 475 people will be trained in making mosquito nets including 300 of them in Rapid Response Training programmes and the rest in production line skills.
At least Rwf700, 000 will be spent on each of the trainees in courses that will take four months. This will also be followed up by the company investing in sending 17 staff members to China in study tours and skills improvement.
The Mosquito net plant is currently located in Kigali Special Economic Zone but with plans to shift to its 2 hectares home under construction in Rwamagana Industrial Zone in Rwamagana district, Eastern Province.
Dr. James Gashumba, the Vice Chancellor of Rwanda Polytechnic said: “We have a bigger bargain here because this plant has a state of the art technology which means it will need local technicians and operation maintenance, which means jobs for our graduates in ICT and mechanics.”
In the meantime, Rwandans could rest assured to have standard mosquito nets in their beds to prevent malaria, which in the last two years had surged across the country.
In 2016, health facilities received over 16 million new cases of malaria and among them 82.56% were patients recorded in health centres, 3.2% in district and provincial hospitals while 1% was recorded in referral hospitals, according to data from the Ministry of Health.
According to the WHO 2018 global report on malaria, for the first time since 2011, Rwanda reported a drop in malaria cases, with more than 430, 000 fewer cases of malaria in 2017 compared to 2016.