Some 150 million litres of hand sanitizers and millions of face masks have been exported to several African countries to help them fight the coronavirus pandemic, Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel has said.The manufacturing, sale and export of personal protective equipment (PPE), hand sanitisers and other Covid-19 fighting equipment was a “significant opportunity” for local businesses, Patel said on Saturday.
“We’ve already started supplying and exporting PPEs to neighbours and the rest of the continent,” the minister said.
He noted that due to the local shortage of PPEs, many African countries are looking 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.”
According to Patel, the exports were important for the country to show solidarity with neighbours such as Botswana, eSwatini, Lesotho, Namibia and Zambia.
Other African countries that have imported PPEs from South Africa include Algeria, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda, he said.
“In the long run, there are also economic opportunities for us. 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.”