A LOCAL firm, Vision Garment Ltd, is set to begin production of bed nets in April this year, and targets to manufacture 1.7 million nets every month, The New Times has learnt.
Telesphore Mugwiza, the Director General in charge of Industry and Entrepreneurship Development at the Ministry of Trade and Industry that told The New Times on Wednesday producing mosquito nets locally will significantly reduce the country’s import bill.
Rwanda spends a staggering $17 million (Rwf15 billion) every year on importing mosquito nets, which are distributed to the citizens under the first and second category of Ubudehe free of charge.
“Finally, the company is starting production of mosquito nets. It has already assembled its machinery,” Mugwiza said.
At least six companies had expressed interest in setting up plants to produce treated mosquito bed nets.
The interest to produce bed nets locally was prompted by a controversial deal in 2015 in which 2.6 million substandard mosquito nets worth Rwf9 billion were imported, triggering a surge in malaria cases.
Construction of the mosquito net factory is under construction in the Kigali Special Economic Zone with plans to construct another plant in Rwamagana Industrial Park.
Apart from mosquito nets, the company will also produce 88 metric tonnes of garments per month, the official said.
Both moves will add impetus to government ambitions of increasing foreign exchange revenues through increased exports as well as weaning itself off foreign aid.
The price of the locally made mosquito nets will depend on the forces of demand and supply as we are in a free market economy, said Mugwiza.
The company is expected to create 1,000 jobs by the end of the year.
Producing bed nets domestically is expected to drastically reduce malaria deaths.
Dr Aimable Mbituyumuremyi, the Division Manager of malaria and other parasitic diseases at Rwanda Biomedical Centre, said that: “This will continue to reduce malaria cases and deaths.”
According to the World Health Organisation’s (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.
In 2016, health facilities received over 16 million new cases of malaria and among them 82.56 per cent were patients recorded in health centres, 3.2 per cent in district and provincial hospitals, and one per cent in referral hospitals, according to data from the Ministry of Health.
Between 2016 and 2017/2018, severe malaria cases dropped by 40 per cent while malaria deaths reduced by 43 per cent, figures show.