Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel says South Africa had exported in excess of R1.6-billion worth of hand sanitiser during the last six months.
The Minister on December 7 discussed the figures, stating that between June and November this year, permits for the export of hand sanitisers to 30 other African countries, including Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique and Botswana, totalled R1.6-billion.
He explained that South African manufacturers of hand sanitiser had been building significant trade ties with other African countries during the Covid-19 pandemic, contributing to saving lives, as well as export revenue for South Africa.
“At the start of the pandemic, South Africa faced a shortage of hand sanitisers and industry worked with government to expand local production.
“Measures were put in place to regulate the export of hand sanitisers to ensure adequate local capacity and to encourage exports to other African countries. As soon as sufficient capacity was built up for local use, the International Trade Administration Commission issued permits to local companies to export product to other African countries,” Patel noted.
The Minister said that, although the pandemic had disrupted global supply chains, it encouraged local production and innovation. South Africa, as the continent’s largest diversified industrial base, was able to use local know-how to roll out production of critical personal protective equipment, such as sanitiser.
Patel believes intra-Africa trade will further increase from January 1 next year, as it is the effective date for trading to start under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The agreement is expected to boost manufacturing and trade across the continent. The World Bank estimated that successful implementation of the AfCFTA could increase African gross domestic product by $450-billion, or 7%, a year and help lift at least 30-million people out of extreme poverty by 2035.
“The work which South African manufacturers of Covid-19 essentials, like hand sanitisers, have done to build capacity and trading links across the continent during the pandemic will stand them in good stead as the AfCFTA comes into effect next month,” Patel concluded.