Deputy Minister for Trade and Industry, Robert Ahomka-Lindsay, has revealed that the country saved some GH¢95.7 million or US$16.8million, in foreign exchange by locally manufacturing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
This was disclosed during his presentation at the Nation Builders Update, which was held recently under the theme: ‘Protecting lives and livelihoods in the midst of crisis.’
“The science made it clear that we needed PPE to help us fight this pandemic; that was clear. The effect of the pandemic was that global value chains almost came to a standstill.
I still see and remember images of planes flying from some of the most advanced countries in the world looking for PPE but in Ghana we turned our attention to our existing manufacturing business capabilities on the ground, companies we are working with to ensure that we could mobilize them to manufacture these PPE for the Ghanaian people,” Ahomka-Lindsay said.
He went on to add that, though the impact of the pandemic was severe, existing policies plus a thriving garment industry made it easy to produce the PPE which ranged from face masks and hospital gowns to head covers and medical scrubs to be used by frontline health workers, students and the general public.
Offering insight into the composition of the producers, he stated that the Ministry engaged 12 tier-one large-scale garment companies, 35 tier-two medium-scale garment companies and 38 tier-three small-scale garment companies. Also, three textile producers were mobilised to supply fabrics in the production of the PPE.
According to Mr. Ahomka-Lindsay, the small-scale tier-three companies engaged produced an average of 10 million per day using a total amount of 3.76 million yards of fabric which yielded 18.8 million face masks, 90,000 hospital gowns, another 90,000 head covers and 60,000 medical scrubs.
“Since we made these masks locally, we didn’t need to go and find dollars to buy them. We also created over 10,000 direct jobs. These numbers look raw but they are so significant. I know, for instance, of three companies who, as a result of the government making orders for them to produce face masks, paid off all their loans that they had with the bank.
So this is the government putting its money where its mouth is to supporting its own to make sure that we deliver,” he stated.
He expressed confidence that the timely disbursement of the PPE at the height of the pandemic, and even now, has been crucial in the nation winning the battle against the disease.