Lusaka, Thursday, May 7, 2020: COMESA Secretariat Staff presented assorted sanitation and protective materials worth $20,000 last week towards supporting efforts of the government of Zambia in its response to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Funds to procure the items were raised by the COMESA Secretariat staff as a Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative. They included 15,000 facial masks, 15,000 pairs of gloves, 500 bottles of hand sanitizers, 500 washing soaps and 100 hand-wash basins and stands.
Secretary General Chileshe Kapwepwe presented the items to the Minister of Health Dr Chitalu Chilufya, in a brief ceremony conducted in Lusaka, Thursday, 7 May 2020 during a media briefing on COVID-19.
The production of the masks was contracted to the textile and garment cluster of the Zambia Federation of Association of Women in Business (ZFAWIB) in a deliberate move to promote local manufacturing. The association is the national chapter of the COMESA Federation of National Association of Women in Business (FEMCOM).
Early this year, FEMCOM handed over textile equipment worth over Euros 100,000 to the ZFAWIB cluster based in Lusaka. The equipment was provided by the Zambia Association of Manufacturers. These are now being used to manufacture garments including the masks donated by COMESA staff.
Secretary General Kapwepwe urged regional countries to support local productive capacities especially in the manufacture of personal protective equipment given the current disruption of the supply chains from external sources.
“It is time to go local and COMESA is ready to support such endeavors,” she said.
At this time of the COIVD-19 crisis, COMESA is focusing on trade facilitation that will enable free flow of essential commodities, including medical supplies, across the region to build the resilience of the regional economies to contain the pandemic.