Economy

PPE makers worried as State orders slow down

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KAM chief executive Phyllis Wakiaga. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Kenyan textiles factories, which previously exported at least 80 percent of their production largely to the US and the UK, switched to making PPEs and masks to fill a gaping domestic demand at the height of coronavirus pandemic.
  • The Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM), the sector’s lobby, says although local factories have built adequate capacity to supply hospitals in the country and the region, orders have been clouded by unclear procurement guidelines.

Manufacturers are worried of being stuck with stockpile of personal protection equipment (PPEs) and other Covid-19 kits after the government slowed orders amid ongoing probe at the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa).

Kenyan textiles factories, which previously exported at least 80 percent of their production largely to the US and the UK, switched to making PPEs and masks to fill a gaping domestic demand at the height of coronavirus pandemic.

The Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM), the sector’s lobby, says although local factories have built adequate capacity to supply hospitals in the country and the region, orders have been clouded by unclear procurement guidelines.

“Most of the procurements of PPEs, masks and other related items made in the EAC are driven by the public sector through the respective ministries of Health,” KAM chief executive Phyllis Wakiaga said via email.

“The procurement systems within the governments are challenging for private enterprises seeking to service such markets.”

This comes at a time Kemsa, the state-run medical procurement agency, remains under probe by lawmakers and investigative agencies over alleged malpractices in purchase of Covid-19 protection gear.

The agency has monopoly in procuring medical products and technologies for state agencies and counties, with procurement in the neighbouring countries also public-driven.

“There is a need to embrace friendlier, transparent and e-supported procurement systems. This is in addition to promoting the Buy East Africa-Build East Africa initiative that seeks to create an EAC market for East African manufactured products,” Ms Wakiaga said.

“The procurement process is obfuscated making it difficult for local industries to export PPEs to the partner states.”