An employee counts masks at Lida Packaging Products Limited in Mukono district, central Uganda, May 26, 2020. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Tuesday launched two production lines at a Chinese-owned factory making face masks to plug shortages as the country eased lockdown restrictions. (Photo by Hajarah Nalwadda/Xinhua)
MUKONO, Uganda, May 26 (Xinhua) -- Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Tuesday launched two production lines at a Chinese-owned factory that has started making face masks to plug shortages as the country eases lockdown restrictions.
Museveni while speaking at the LIDA Packaging Limited premises in the central Ugandan district of Mukono said Africa must exploit its potential to create an industrialized economy.
"I am happy to commission this factory because it is responding to our call to build local capacity through investing in Uganda and helping to fight the COVID war," Museveni said, according to a State House statement.
Evelyn Anite, minister of state for investment, said Ugandans will now buy locally-made masks, adding that the country is now exporting about 50,000 packages of masks to neighboring Kenya.
Zheng Zhuqiang, Chinese ambassador to Uganda, hailed the ties between Uganda and China, noting that with solidarity and unity the battle against COVID-19 can be won.
Li Shiqing, the chairman of Lida Packaging Products Limited, said the factory's goal is to provide high quality masks at the lowest cost possible.
Li said factory will make different masks, ranging from surgical to the ones used in the community.
The factory has a production capacity of 560,000 masks per day and employs 315 local people.
President Museveni earlier this month called on local factories to start the production of personal protective equipment that would be used in the fight against COVID-19.
Uganda on Tuesday started a phased opening as it eased restrictions imposed in March to contain the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
Private transport, shops, hotels and restaurants resumed operations with strict observation of social distancing guidelines and wearing face masks.
According to police, it is mandatory to wear a face mask while out in public. Those who fail to adhere to the requirement will face arrest.