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‘Local production of facemasks, others to bolster import substitution’

By Femi Adekoya
18 September 2020   |   3:09 am
In line with its import substitution strategy and need to provide affordable hygiene products for Nigerians, especially those in the healthcare sector,

In line with its import substitution strategy and need to provide affordable hygiene products for Nigerians, especially those in the healthcare sector, Wemy Industries has concluded plans to commence the production of facemask and hand sanitizing wipes locally.

According to the Managing Director and CEO of Wemy Industries, Paul Odunaiya, the backward integration plan was implemented in partnership with Mastercard Foundation COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Program and Wema Bank.

Through these partnerships, Odunaiya said the firm would provide key support to health personnel, first responders, frontline workers, isolation centers, hospitals, and other relevant organization in the country through the provision of Personal Protective Equipment from the firm.

In a chat with The Guardian, Odunaiya said Mastercard Foundation supported the project and accelerated the process of starting the production line, noting that the firm would be producing one million pieces of high-quality facemasks daily when it commences operations in October.

He explained that the new production lines would double the size of the business by the financial year-end, just as internal funding and grant from the Mastercard Foundation would also aid the growth of the business.

He added that the firm will be getting involved in a lot of corporate social responsibility activities and also crash the prices of the commodities, stating that the frim hopes to keep the price of the face masks as low at N50 per one.

“We will be producing about 1million pieces of facemask daily. The need to import facemask will reduce significantly. We will also export to neighbouring countries. The trend of using facemask is going to be a culture.

“We are using this opportunity to enhance the backward integration of facemasks production. Every nation is guarding against the export of critical health materials. We need to build self-sufficiency in that area. Our emphasis is on medical and surgical facemasks”, he added.

On competition from fabric facemasks and importers, Odunaiya said: “Competition is not an issue for us as efficiency and cost are our competitive advantage. We have got the state-of-the-art machine for production. We are playing on quality and because we are in the hygiene business, we can make a better decision. We have a sustainable process for the production of facemasks. What the medical industry seeks is the proper mask and the country’s demand cannot be met.

“We imported the machines that can meet local and export capacity. Our experience in this line of business would give us an advantage in the market. Our market research aided our decision and we are hopeful of a sustainable business.

“We had wanted to do the facemask business three years ago but the importation of facemask was too cheap and sustaining local production would have been difficult. We had a document already to let the government stop the importation of the products. The pandemic aided the acceleration of the plan to set up a production plant for the product”.

The Mastercard Foundation COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Program also restated its commitment to assist institutions and communities in Africa to withstand and respond to the short-term impacts of this pandemic, while strengthening their resilience in the long-run.

“Doing so, will enable them to stay united and to be at the forefront of reigniting their economies”, the Foundation added.