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Kenya set to have the first condom manufacturing plant by the end of the year

The erratic supply of condoms and dependence on donor-supplied latex-based health commodities in Kenya is likely to be a thing of past if efforts by the government to facilitate the establishment of local condom manufacturing plant succeeds.

East Africa Latex Manufacturers (EALM), a local company, is currently in talks with key stakeholders such as government ministries, the National AIDS Control Council (NACC), Kenya National AIDS/STI Control Programme (NASCOP) and financial development agencies to fast-track the establishment of a condom manufacturing plant in the country before the end of the year.

The firm has partnered with Richter Hi-Tech a Malaysian firm which will offer technology support. It has also sought consultancy services from GEMI Rubber, the only firm in Africa that has pioneered in the manufacturing of condoms in Botswana. GEMI Rubber provides management and technical consultancies on start-up and existing condom manufacturing projects.

EALM director, Ms. Wambere Kariu noted that the company has already conducted visibility studies and identified premises for the installation of the plant saying she is optimistic that production of the male latex will commence in the third quarter of 2011.

"We believe this can be done and all that is required is the right technology, the right partners and a supporting institutional framework," says Ms. Kariu

Kariu was speaking during a meeting on Promotion of setting up a local manufacturing plant that was held at the Ministry of Industrialization headquarters in Nairobi.

Industrialization Secretary Eng. John Mosonik who chaired the meeting said that the government is focused on encouraging and creating an enabling environment to have all products consumed in the country produced locally because of the socioeconomic and technological advantages that come with local manufacturing.

He said that the government is committed to developing and availing incentives that will encourage firms that are seeking to manufacture condoms locally. He said that government is happy with the manufacturing of condom initiative and gave assurance to the investor that the government will fully support the venture.

He said the government through its Kenya Bureau of Standards will also ensure that products manufactured locally met the requisite quality and standards.

NACC director, Prof. Alloys Orago, who also attended the meeting, said that the estimated condom requirement for last year was 309million noting that it is time the country started manufacturing its own condoms in order to meet the increasing demand.

He said that the dwindling donor support was hurting preventive measures in the country and noted that it was high time that such initiatives were given the full support not only for condom manufacturing but also manufacturing of ARVs locally.

"Let us start from home by putting up our own industries to help our people," said Orago, adding that as a country we must embrace all methods that hinge on prevention to enable us manage HIV/AIDS.

Besides the manufacturing of condoms the company also intends to manufacture other Latex-based health commodities such as Probe covers and gloves for surgical sterile and industrial purposes. The company anticipates to initially manufacture 180 million male latex condoms annually and create over 200 jobs in the country.

Local production of condoms is expected to boost health security and condom efficacy, create jobs, facilitate technology transfer and create economic linkages.