When COVID-19 pandemic hit the world in December 2019, everyone went on sharpened heels for the solution. Scientists worked round the clock, researching and experimenting. Economic analysts and planners got saddled with the responsibility of salvaging our economies. But there was an upside, the demand for protective gears hit the roof, thereby creating a value chain.
The World Health Organisation had recommended the use of face masks, hand sanitisers, and other personal protective equipment (PPE) as temporary measures, to contain the spread of the pandemic. And that brought the safety industry to the forefront of the fight, thereby injecting a sudden boom in the business of manufacturing, distribution and sale of PPEs across the world.
These hand sanitisers, face shields, nose masks and other protective wears, which were once not given a second thought, have now become prerequisites for staying alive.
While it was expected that developed countries would lend a helping hand to under-developed countries, news reports across the world revealed that these same countries were hoarding those supplies in the heat of pandemic.
According to report by the World Economic Forum, eighty countries and customs territories banned or limited the export of face masks, protective gears, gloves and other goods in the thick of the pandemic. Aljazeera also published an article with the headline, ‘Pandemic Perfectionism: Nations hoard masks, ventilators, meds’. Consequently, there was a shortage of protective gears around the world.
However, as a continent largely dependent on exports of medicals, Africa’s reaction was quite unprecedented, as local tailors maximised their skills to save the continent. After the use of face masks was enforced in Lagos, Ogun State, and Abuja FCT in April 2020, followed by the presidential order on the compulsory use of face masks across the federation, the protective gears market opened up in Nigeria.
Our dependence on importation of protective gears never happened, maybe not as anyone would expect. Corporate organisations and individuals flooded the country with locally-made protective gears and hand-washing liquids both for sale and as philanthropic gestures. Cross River State garment factory produced and distributed face masks for its citizens and also sold one million face masks to Lagos state, Benue, Kano, and Julius Berger respectively…
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