NAIROBI, Feb 21 (IPS) - Kenya will soon have its own condom
factory - a joint venture between a local company, Olag
Enterprises, and the German CONDOMI AG, one of the world's
largest condom manufacturing companies.
The project is supported by the German Development Bank (DEG)
within its public private partnership programme in line with
the bilateral government policies of the two countries.
Dubbed CONDOMI Health Kenya, the new company will be located in
the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, and is expected to have a
capacity of 100 million condoms per year, with an initial
investment of about 2,5 million US Dollars. The local condom
demand is expected to reach 650 million pieces by the end of
Besides the production of condoms, the organisation says it
will launch intensive education programmes and communication
activities geared at changing attitudes and behaviour towards
"The joint venture will manufacture high quality condoms that
are affordable, accessible, suitable and acceptable to the
local population," says Dr. Patrick Mbeo, of Olago Enterprises,
Condomi's local partner.
"With our joint company, we plan to aggressively market our
products in Kenya, as well as in the neighbouring countries to
locally provide the right products for all AIDS prevention
efforts," Condomi's director, Oliver Gothe, said in a recent
He said the condom factory was strategically placed in a
country which loses an average of 500 people daily to the
deadly HIV/AIDS scourge.
Last year President Daniel arap Moi declared HIV/AIDS a
national disaster. Official estimates on condom use in Kenya
say demand has increased by more than 250 percent during the
last three years and predict a further rise as a result of the
recently changed government policies on HIV/AIDS.
Moi, a devout Christian, initially was reported to be opposed
to the promotion of condom use. However, analysts say he
recently softened his stance on the issue recognising the
shocking HIV/AIDS statistics in the East African country. The
threat of AIDS must not be treated casually, in today's world,
condoms are a must," he said recently in one of his nationally
Official statistics say two million of Africa's 21 million AIDS
sufferers live in Kenya, a devastation greater than the
conflicts afflicting the continent. With more than 70 percent
of hospital beds occupied by AIDS patients, the epidemic has
also reportedly taken a silent, but heavy toll on Kenya's
professionals, scholars and school teenagers.
A new government report on AIDS warns of an increase in the
number of sufferers from the current 10 percent of the
population of 30 million to 15 percent by 2005, if no practical
measures are taken to curb the current trend.
The report, "AIDS In Kenya: Background, Projections, Impact and
Interventions Policy" says the number of children orphaned by
AIDS may shoot up to 860, 000 from the current 600, 000 by the
end of this year.
The HIV crisis in Kenya has brought home the reality to the
Kenyan government, which has launched a massive campaign to
halt a further spread of the disease and is seeking bilateral
support for research into a vaccine.
The proposed condom factory has been backed by the AIDS non
governmental organisations who say the new project will boost
condom distribution in the East African country.
"All along, we have been importing condoms and there has been a
lot of controversy over their quality, and ability to protect,"
says Esther Gatua, a programme officer with the Kenya Aids NGO
consortium, the umbrella of all AIDS organisations in Kenya.
She says the locally manufactured condoms will not only reduce
the cost to consumers but it would also be easier to monitor
their quality control through relevant government bodies.