Long-lasting Mosquito Bednets Made in Africa, by Africans, for Africans

Distinguished Visitors Includes Ministers, Diplomats, International Stars and Business Leaders

Arusha, Tanzania – February 8, 2008 – Vice President Dr Ali Mohammed Shein today  presided over the dedication of the new Olyset Net factory in Arusha, Tanzania before an audience of distinguished guests.  Olyset, a long-lasting insecticidal net (LLIN), is a crucial tool in the fight against malaria – and the only WHO-recommended LLIN manufactured in Africa, where a child dies from malaria every 30 seconds.

“The Olyset model produces a vital public health product and simultaneously boosts economic development in Africa,” said Vice President Shein.  “This is truly an advance beyond aid, toward self-sustaining enterprise in the service of public health. It is a model that should be vigorously applied in other industries across the continent.”

The Arusha net factory is a 50/50 joint venture between Sumitomo Chemical, a multi-national Japanese company headquartered in Tokyo, and A to Z Textile Mills, a locally-based Tanzanian company. The joint venture legal entity, Vector Health International, is an  expansion of a business relationship that commenced with a royalty-free technology transfer  in 2003. The new facilities bring Olyset production capacity in Arusha to 10 million nets per year. Over 3,200 jobs have been created in the venture, supporting at least 20,000 people.

“We are delighted to celebrate with all of you this significant milestone.  Our collaboration has grown to a full-fledged joint venture.” said Hiromasa Yonekura, President of Sumitomo Chemical.   “This Tanzania operation is a stronghold for our Olyset Net business. From here, we will further expand our Olyset Net operations in Africa, and we will enhance our efforts in the fight against malaria and to contribute to Africa’s economic development.”

LLINs are proven, effective tools in the fight against malaria. Olyset Net was the first LLIN to be submitted to the World Health Organization’s Pesticide Evaluation Scheme (WHOPES) and remains the only LLIN to have passed all four stages of the evaluation process confirming efficacy and longevity. The Olyset Net is tough, durable and wash-proof. Insecticide is incorporated within the net’s fibres during manufacture, for slow release over a sustained period of time. Consequently, they never need re-treatment with insecticide, and are guaranteed to be effective for a minimum of five years. In field tests, Olyset nets have been shown to still be effective after seven years in Tanzania.

“Africa needs direct foreign investment to build strong economies, and when 90% of the malaria deaths are in Africa, why should we have to import bednets?”  said Anuj Shah, CEO of A to Z Textile Mills. “These jobs are transforming our community, and we are seeing that children are staying in school longer as one immediate result.”

“Long lasting insecticide nets are a vital tool in the fight against malaria. We are delighted to see such a huge expansion of local production capacity in Tanzania and the creation of more jobs, especially for women,” said Dr. Awa Marie Coll-Seck, Executive Director of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership. “The transfer of this technology to Africa four years ago has reaped tremendous results and shows how innovative partnerships can produce sustainable benefits for public health.”

About A to Z Textile Mills Ltd.
A to Z Textile Mills Ltd., was established by the Shah family in 1966 in Arusha, Tanzania as a small garment manufacturer. In 1978, the company started manufacturing polyester bednets. Bednets now constitute a large percentage of production, taking place in fully integrated plants with spinning, knitting, weaving, dyeing, finishing, cutting and making  departments. The business culture at A to Z invites innovation, with commitment to attracting and retaining capable employees; treatment of employees with dignity and respect; encouragement for creativity and innovation in every aspect of the work; provision of growth opportunities to all within the organization; provision of a healthy, safe and enjoyable work environment; and establishment of progressive and long-standing relationship with suppliers.

About Sumitomo Chemical
Sumitomo Chemical is a multi-national Japanese company, with decades of experience in hybrid chemistry, including both insecticide manufacturing and plastics technology. Dedicated to solving environmental and social problems through innovative technology and sustainable development, Sumitomo Chemical believes the cycle of poverty can be broken by the control and prevention of vector-borne diseases. As Olyset has been shown to be the most cost-effective malaria preventative intervention today, Sumitomo Chemical is working to ensure this technology reaches those in need through expansion of production capacity for local African manufacture of Olyset. The development of this life-saving product is central to Sumitomo Chemical’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) commitment, which has the “sustainable development of society” at its core.

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