SA exporting 'millions' of facemasks, hand sanitiser: Patel
SA has exported 150-million litres of hand sanitiser to other African countries, and “millions” of face masks.
This is according to trade and industry minister Ebrahim Patel.
Speaking on Friday at an economic cluster briefing regarding level 3 restrictions, Patel said the manufacturing, sale and export or personal protective equipment (PPE), hand sanitisers and other Covid-19 fighting equipment was a “significant opportunity” for SA businesses.
“We’ve already started supplying and exporting PPEs to neighbours and the rest of the continent. Due to the local shortage of PPEs, many countries look to South Africa to assist in making kits available to fight the virus. It’s important that we do so because, as neighbours, it’s only when we can ensure the infection doesn’t spread across the region that South Africans are safe,” he said.
It was also important, he said, that SA showed solidarity with other African states.
“In the long run, there are also economic opportunities. Africa, as a continent, must make sure we have the required capacity to produce [the equipment]. We must never again be subject to the shortages we see globally, which places the lives of our people at risk,” he said.
Patel said SA had so far exported 150-million litres of hand sanitiser across Africa, mostly to “immediate neighbours”, but also to Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda.
“Millions” of face masks have been produced and made available for health-care workers in neighbouring countries and elsewhere, he said. Foreign governments have “placed orders with SA factories”.
“The biggest one [export] has been masks to Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Lesotho and eSwatini. We’ve also been able to export to Nigeria, Egypt, Algeria, Gabon and Kenya,” he said.