COVID-19: Indigenous Firm to Unveil Locally Manufactured Ventilators

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By James Emejo

An indigenous ICT firm, Access Solutions Limited said work has reached an advanced stage towards the production of locally manufactured ventilators in a major push to combat the deadly COVID-19 pandemic currently ravaging the entire world.

In an exclusive interview with THISDAY the company’s Managing Director/Chief Executive, Mr. Elijah Olanrewaju, said, “All is almost ready for our prototype to come out,” adding that the first production of the ventilators would happen next month.

The development will particularly boost ongoing efforts by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to stimulate research in the health sector as well as encourage the production of health equipment to cater for the needs of the country amidst the adverse impact of the pandemic – as well as the need to preserve scarce foreign exchange.

Elijah, said the company had during the COVID-19 turmoil, launched a quick intervention programme to work on technologically advanced COVID-19 ventilators, “not the ones you see people rushing”.
He said: “We are working on the ventilators which are computer driven whereby we can produce in quantities if need be”

He also revealed that the company is developing other locally manufactured clinical instruments including thermometers, 3D machines and drones to boost the agricultural value value chain.

He said some of the innovations will be unveiled by the first quarter of 2021.

According to the Access Solutions boss:” The original vision of the company is found in the name Access Solutions – we are a solutions company. If we don’t solve people’s problems then technology has no use.

“Now, one of the key things we are trying to do is to say how do we make sure technology is applied to health, applied to food provision in agriculture, food processing – How do we apply it to the economy and how do we apply it to solving the unemployment issues.”

The CBN had launched a N100 billion health intervention support programme to develop the pharmaceutical sector and encourage research and innovation as well as efforts to produce locally made vaccines to subdue the pandemic.

Even though Access Solutions is yet to take advantage of the intervention support, Elijah told THISDAY the company intends to apply for the funds to scale up its programme – pointing out that so far, private capital had been used to fund its programmes.

Nevertheless, he said: “We are looking into farming actually – How do we help farmers because subsistence farming cannot help us, you need to mechanise, in fact, technology driven farming where we can use drones.

“Like right now, we are working at producing 3D machines that we can help schools with. We want to use that also by the grace of God in the next two years to be able to produce locally driven drones – not just the ones that they import parts and assemble.

“We want to be able to largely produce everything here in Nigeria to make sure that over 70 per cent of the materials are produced locally.

“For example, by so doing, we can crash the costs of provisioning drones to farmers to help in spraying. If you have 50 acres of land, if you want to use hand to spray chemicals, you know how long it is going to take and the number of people you are going to employ.

“But with drones, you can do that almost within hours.

So, these are parts of the initiatives we are looking at and with that you will employ more people. With that we are trying to contribute in solving the unemployment problem in the country and also increasing food production and solving the hunger problem.”

Elijah said the company which is renowned for its competitive banking and payment solutions and systems optimisation, among others, seeks to leverage technology in resolving the challenges in health, agriculture particularly food processing as well as boost the economy in general.

He said: “Last year we started an initiative we have been playing with for some time – we set up a lab that is researching into a number of things: for example in agriculture right now, we are working in the area of what we call addictive manufacturing using 3D printers, using new technologies to be able to help people in processing rice or producing little equipment that can help those who are in the processing line.

“We are also looking into pan making, dried pap and all of these are produced from our lab called Photonics Lab.

The lab is also working on producing large scale Internet of Things (IOT) materials to help process automations whether management or all of that.”

He pointed out that the company is currently looking to produce some medical equipment locally to help hospitals especially to reduce pressure on the country’s foreign exchange.