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    6 Dec, 2021

    Malawian firm scaling up production line thanks to a grant from the Joint Action SIPS

    Ethanol Company (EthCo), a Malawian company, is scaling up its production line and increasing production of hand sanitisers and surface disinfectants from 2,000 litres to 7,200 litres a day after receiving a grant of €100,000 from the Joint Action Support to the Industrialisation and the Productive Sectors (SIPS) in the Southern African Development Community Region (SADC).

    The €18 million Joint Action SIPS, funded by the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, aims to strengthen the private sector development in selected regional value chains. Those value chains include anti-retrovirals medicine, and leather. The Joint Action SIPS is managed by the SADC Secretariat.

    As a result of the global pandemic, the scope of the Joint Action SIPS was widened to include the COVID-19 relevant medical and pharmaceutical products (CMPP) value chain. Ethco is one of the 14 companies in the SADC Region that are benefiting from the Joint Action SIPS’ support. 

    EthCo is Malawi’s sole producer of potable ethanol which is used by beverages and pharmaceutical industries, anhydrous ethanol used in fuel blending and rectified alcohol used in industrial applications.

    EthCo addressed the COVID-19 related increased demand for alcohol-based sanitisers in Malawi by building a new production line for hand sanitisers and surface disinfectants.

    Leveraging its ethanol production business, EthCo was able to offer low-cost sanitiser products. However, its production line used a manual process, was inefficient and had high spill rates which resulted in high production costs.

    The grant will finance the purchasing and installation of new production equipment. This will increase the production capacity and reduce the production cost by 11% for hand sanitisers and by 13% for surface disinfectants. More importantly, availability of hand sanitisers will increase and help curb the transmission of COVID-19, particularly in communities with limited access to water.

     EthCo anticipates that the project will create six additional jobs as well as opportunities for 58 local sales distributors in the 29 districts across Malawi. The project will enhance technical know-how and strengthen the industrial capacity in Malawi.

    Thanks to the grant,  EthCo will vertically integrate across the entire hand sanitiser value chain from ethanol processing to handling of the finished product. Vertical integration is critical to retain the value of processed raw materials and reduce reliance on imports of finished goods.

    The availability of affordable sanitisers will improve access of disadvantaged communities to products contributing to curb COVID-19 transmission. In communities with limited access to clean water, the availability of surface disinfectants and hand sanitisers will encourage safe hygiene practices and thereby reduce the incidence of infectious diseases such as cholera and typhoid.

    As part of its corporate responsibility, EthCo aims to create shared value within the community. EthCo has participated in programmes aimed at building bridges, renovating hospitals, and creating internship as well as apprenticeship programmes for students.

    During the COVID-19 pandemic, the company donated ethanol for use as a hand sanitiser to several public institutions such as hospitals, schools, and magistrate courts.

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