Kenya’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with cold storage facilities are repurposing their businesses to assist the government in the storage and distribution of the Covid-19 vaccines.
Lydia Apondi, the manager of Ruiru-based European Foods Africa Ltd, said her company started preparations in December, when the government announced it had ordered 24 million doses from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
One major challenge in the Covid-19 vaccine operation is local cold chain capacity for vaccine storage within some low- and lower-middle-income countries, an area Apondi said logistical companies with cold room facilities can complement the government.
“We have affordable and secure freezer-rooms that the government can hire for storage of the vaccines once they arrive.
Our modern coldrooms with adjustable temperatures of between negative 15 to negative 25 degrees centigrade are ideal for storing the vaccines,”she said.
Dr Patrick Amoth, Acting director of health said the vaccines are expected in the country early this year, with frontline health workers, the vulnerable elderly being the first to be vaccinated. Each dose will cost $3 (Sh330).
Gavi has signed agreements with manufacturers of about nine vaccine candidates, but according to Amoth, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is ideal for Kenya because it fits within its cold chain supply system.
The country’s economy, whose backbone is agriculture and tourism, with linkages to the SME sector has been severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
A KPMG report commissioned by Kenya Association of Manufacturers found that 37 per cent of SMEs, scaled down their production since the first case of the pandemic was reported in March last year.