Three years ago, there was a demand for over a billion male condoms per annum in South Africa, but 80% of them were being imported. Meeting the demand is vitally important, as male condoms significantly help in reducing the spread of HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). According to Statistics South Africa’s 2018 mid-year population estimates, the rate of HIV prevalence for adults aged between 15 and 49 was 19%.
Gemilatex (Pty) Ltd was established to produce male condoms. Most of the shareholders of the company are black women, as a key goal of the project was to promote black industrialisation and female empowerment. In January 2017, Zutari was appointed by the Gemilatex-National Empowerment Fund (NEF) joint venture as the owner’s engineer for a new male latex condom manufacturing plant and associated infrastructure in South Africa.
The role included project management, process engineering, quantity surveying, architectural sub-contracting, and civil, structural, mechanical, and electrical engineering. The work also included the inspection and selection of original equipment manufacturing technologies, and the basic design of the proposed factory, together with capital expenditure (CAPEX) estimates.
“Projects such as the Gemilatex male condom manufacturing plant are not only good for the economy through local manufacturing and black industrialisation, but also contribute to achieving an HIV-free and healthier future generation,” says Denzel Maduray, Zutari Principal and Lead Project Manager on the project.
The biggest challenge was getting the project to financial close. Although the Gemilatex project had the backing of the NEF as part of the Black Industrialist Programme, many consultations and strategic sessions were needed to ensure the financial future of the venture.
“Projects such as the Gemilatex male condom manufacturing plant are not only good for the economy through local manufacturing and black industrialisation, but also contribute to achieving an HIV-free and healthier future generation”
Eventually, the East London Industrial Development Zone (ELIDZ) agreed to fund the proposed factory building and act as the project’s developer. This step was aided by the joint venture client winning a tender from the Department of Health for condom supply on a three-year distribution agreement. There is also the potential to upgrade to the status of manufacturer for the department, once the proposed factory is operational and has been certified by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS).
While the project is still in the financial closing stage, it is anticipated that the factory will be operational by the end of 2020, and will produce between 70 million and 280 million condoms annually for local and export markets.
“Everyone in our team is passionate about this project. We commend the client for their vision and drive to bring this important project to fruition,” says Maduray.
*The Aurecon Africa business has been officially renamed Zutari as at 21 July 2020. Zutari acquired Aurecon Middle East on 20 November 2020.