Two pensioners on a mission to tackle malaria

Mukakabano talks about mosquito repellent products including candles in different colours, cream and bottled spray during an interview at Nice Dream Candle Company in Ndera Sector, Gasabo District on Tuesday. Emmanuel Ntirenganya.

A mosquito bite is one of the unpleasant incidents that people want to avoid as it can result into a malaria infection, but new products developed by two pensioners seems to have a response.

People in bars, shops, homes, students attending classes, as well as security guards on duty, among others, are susceptible to mosquito bites in evening and night hours.

Now they can apply repellent sprays and creams to keep mosquitos at bay.

The products, according to Virginie Mukakabano, one of the developers, repel female anopheles mosquitoes, which transmit malaria.

Workers at the Nice Dream Candles Ltd engage in the production of mosquito repellent candles. One can light for between six and seven hours and costs Rwf250 (Emmanuel Ntirenganya) 

“When someone is set to travel through an area with a large mosquito population, they can put it in their pocket, and spray or apply it on their body or around them,” said the former employee of the City of Kigali.

The 69-year old partnered with Guido Kiloha, a retired molecular biologist to make candles that, when lit, will chase mosquitoes away.

In 2013, the duo partnered to form the Ndera based Nice Dream Candle Company, which currently produces 480 candles every day by using semi-automated equipment.

Their first candles were produced and certified by Rwanda Standards Board (RSB) in 2016.

They use paraffin (which is imported) as one of their inputs while other essential oils are locally produced.

Last year they started producing a mosquito repellent spray and cream. The two items are produced from the essential oils from locally grown herbs such aromatic eucalyptus species, geranium, and lemongrass, as well beeswax (for the cream), as active ingredients.

“We want to teach many young people about this activity so that they can get jobs, and support the development of their country,” Mukakabano said, adding they currently employ five people.

They say that their aim is to support the country in its fight against malaria.

“I wondered what I could do in my retirement because I did not want to remain idle. Then, I thought about products that can save people from malaria,” Kiloha said, adding that at first they intended to venture into manufacturing soap that can tackle skin diseases as well as anti-malaria drugs.

To start their business, they secured a Rwf30 million loan through Business Development Fund (BDF) thanks to a support from the ministry of trade and industry.


A 60-millilitre bottle of the spray costs Rwf3000. It can be used for one month.

For the cream, a bottle goes for Rwf2000 and can also be used for up to one month.

They say one of the challenges they face is the high cost of packaging material, citing an empty bottle of spray which they buy at Rwf1000.

A recent joint report by the National Industrial Research and Development Agency and Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), which assessed the effectiveness of plant based mosquito repellent, show that the products prevent human-mosquito contact at between 77.4 per cent and 94 per cent depending on the type of mosquito and their malaria transition ability.

The products come and at a time the government is also implementing methods to fight malaria, among them, distribution of insecticide treated mosquito nets and indoor residual-spraying of mosquitoes.

Rwanda is also set to start using drones in spraying mosquito prone areas in a bid to scale up efforts to eliminate malaria.

Annual malaria cases in Rwanda decreased from 4.6 million in 2018 to 3.9 million in 2019, according to information from the Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC).

There was also a decline in malaria incidence from 394 per 1,000 people in 2018 to 328 per 1,000 in 2019.

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