Economy

Chinese medical manufacturer plans Sh9.84bn plant in Kenya

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IFC Regional Director for Eastern Africa Jumoke Jagun-Dokunmu. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Zhende Limited, a Chinese medical supplies manufacturer, plans to build two plants in Kenya after securing Sh9.84 billion in funding from the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

The Shanghai Stock Exchange-listed firm will produce and supply medical products primarily non-woven fabrics used in diapers, protective wear, face masks, hospital gowns, wound care, caps and filtration fabrics, among others.

In the first phase, Zhende will occupy a four-hectare industrial site in the Tatu City Special Economic Zone.

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“The company is planning to construct a medical supply manufacturing plant near Nairobi, Kenya. This facility will primarily produce medical supplies such as gowns, gauze, syringes, and other basic medical consumables for the region. The proposed IFC loan is of up to Sh9.84 billion ($70 million) equivalent,” said the IFC.

The project will be conducted in two phases, with the cost of Phase I expected to be Sh8.4 billion ($60 million) and the second phase to be finalized after the land purchase.

Zhende has received funding in the form of a $70 million loan from the World Bank through the IFC.

“The proposed investment consists of two senior loans up to $70 million equivalent in total to support Zhende to establish a medical supply manufacturing base (including phase I for surgical products and phase II for wound care products) near Nairobi, Kenya,” said the IFC.

The manufacturer expects to complete construction by December 2023.

“Based on current plans, Zhende expects to start construction on this site from June 2023 and complete it by December 2023. The plant will start production from January 2024 and employ 700+ employees upon launch with 80 percent being female,” said IFC.

“For Phase II, the site is yet to be selected and Zhende is assessing several options. Once the site is selected, the construction for Phase II is proposed to start by November 2023 and finish by October 2024. The plant is expected to start production in November 2024 and employ 3,000 workers.”

The plan to make Kenya a regional healthcare destination and a pharmaceutical manufacturing hub is gradually gaining traction.

The manufacturing capacity is expected to grow due to confidence and interest from the international bodies receiving accreditation from the World Health Organisation to manufacture for the global market.

Moderna also finalised an agreement with the government to establish in Kenya an mRNA manufacturing facility, the first in Africa, with the capacity to produce up to 500 million vaccine doses annually.

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The new facility is expected to enable the manufacturing of vaccines for Kenya and Africa and will be able to quickly scale up its production and respond to public health emergencies on the continent and worldwide.

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