Localisation opportunities exist even in the darkest time
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By Eustace Mashimbye
SOMEONE close to me received their first Covid-19 vaccination last week, and in telling me about their experience, we both observed how South Africa has risen to the challenge and how we have managed to mobilise our own resources to vaccinate our population.
Their experience at one of the main Gauteng vaccination centres was seamless and professional. Not only that, it was providing, in the midst of a global pandemic, many new direct and indirect jobs.
From traffic and parking marshalls, to the staff manning check points, to the ushers, nurses administering the injections, to staff constantly sanitising chairs and other surfaces, there was an entire army of people ensuring that the process was both smooth and safe.
In addition, there were uniforms, bibs, signage, booths and many other clothing and equipment items that went into creating an easy-to-navigate route through the centre, with highly visible assistance for each stage of the journey from appointment checking to leaving the site.
All of these present possible new procurement opportunities from which our economy can benefit greatly if the right decisions are taken to buy locally made items.
As we bring more vaccination centres on line, not all will be on such a large scale, but they will all require staffing at different levels from their everyday operations.
Pharmacies, day centres and clinics and many other identified locations that will be dispensing the vaccine to our people will be taking on temporary employees to help, will be equipping and possibly even dressing them, we hope always in locally made uniforms.
When Covid-19 first hit our shores and lockdown measures were introduced, we defaulted to purchasing imported items because we hadn’t yet worked out that we could meet demand ourselves, even if it meant in some cases pivoting a business to adapt a production line to an item that met the new needs of the country.
These included medical PPE and non-medical face masks, as well as sanitisers, in all of which South Africa is now self-sufficient, as a direct result of capacity created by local demand.
Now we have learned that in times of crisis, South Africans rise to the occasion and put their shoulders to the wheel creating local solutions to local problems.
The vaccination roll out is massive. Make no mistake, logistically it is a huge challenge, but if we take each element in bite-size chunks – and consume the elephant one mouthful at a time – we will see that we can achieve herd immunity.
And if at each stage of the process we ensure that the organising entity – whether the public or private sector – ensures that every little item required to deliver a comprehensive vaccination programme is procured locally, we will be helping South Africa recover from what is both a health as well as an economic crisis.
If you are involved in any way with the delivery of the vaccine programme, in whatever small way, please make sure that you promote localisation as a means of healing the nation.
This is one of those defining moments where we all can and should play our respective parts, in a meaningful and highly effective way, as advocated for by PJ Powers and the Mzansi Youth Choir in their colourful unifying song, Bayete Mzansi.
Eustace Mashimbye is the chief executive of Proudly South African
*The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL or of title sites