The country saved GH₵95.7 million or an equivalent of US$16.8 million when she endeavoured to locally manufacture personal protective equipment (PPE) during the heat of the coronavirus pandemic.
This was disclosed by the Deputy Trade and Industry Minister, Robert Ahomka-Lindsay at the Nation Builders update held recently under the theme: ‘Protecting lives and livelihoods’.
The pandemic forced the country to look within to manufacture essential PPE like sanitizers, nose/face masks; something that became a scarcity globally. This saved the country crucial foreign exchange equivalent to US$17 million which is significant to note.
Indeed, the pandemic caused the country to be self-sufficient in the provision of hospital gowns and headcovers not excluding the medical gear worn by frontline health workers.
The Deputy Trade Minister made it clear that had the country not relied on local fabric manufacturing companies to produce face masks and other accessories in large quantities, the country would have had to go looking for foreign exchange to procure the items.
He went on to add that as a result, 10,000 direct jobs were created and this is remarkable because the outbreak of the pandemic saw a number of firms’ close shop as a result of low economic activity. This obviously has to be commended and goes to reinforce the adage that necessity is the mother of invention.
This goes to demonstrate that the country is capable of being self-reliant in many respects and that a Ghana beyond aid is a feasible objective, provided the country puts its mind to it. In fact, a lot of commendation has to go to these manufacturers of essential products since the case count for COVID-19 was remarkably low to the benefit of the nation.
Sometime in May this year at the height of the pandemic, Medecin Sans Frontires (MSF) issued a press release calling for the market in PPE to be regulated.
COVID-19 caused shortages and price rises in PPE, especially for frontline health workers. In early March, the WHO noted that since the start of the pandemic, the price of surgical masks had increased six-fold. The price of respirators had trebled and the price of surgical gowns had doubled.
However, owing to our ability to produce the same locally, no such shortage affected the Ghanaian market. In fact, we had in excess face masks and hand sanitizers to the extent that the market was overflowing with such products.