Ontex Hygienic Disposables Plc, a manufacturer of Canbebe brand diapers, in partnership with Tracon Trading Plc, inaugurated the first diaper manufacturing plant in Hawassa Industrial Park (HIP) on Tuesday, July 11, 2017, with a quarter of a billion Br investment.
The new plant rests under an 11,000sqm shed in the HIP. It already started the production of Canbebe diapers a week before its inauguration. The company produces 700 diapers a minute with its German made machines.
As for the pilot stage, the plant functions in one shift using 35 employees. One of the employees is an expatriate from Kenya as a plant manager and two more temporary experts from Germany and Spain rotate with other experts in two months from other Ontex plants until the locals become capable of replacing the experts, according to Thomas Heege, head of technology at Ontex.
The operations team has had hands-on training in different plants at Ontex Germany, Spain and the Czech Republic, according to Thierry Viale, general manager at Ontex.
As raw material, the company uses 14 types of inputs imported from America, Canada and Korea.
“Currently, the company imports 40pc of the raw materials from abroad,” said Arkebe Oqubay, special adviser to the Prime Minister and Board Chairman of the Industrial Park Development Corporation (IPDC). “But in the future, they will be produced here in the country as most of the raw materials are made of textile.”
The company is allowed to supply 40pc of its product to the local market while exporting 60pc of the product to the East African market and sub-Saharan countries that are members of the Common Market for Eastern & Southern Africa (COMESA).
COMESA is the largest regional economic alliance in Africa with 19 countries and a population of about 390 million. It has a free trade area and launched a customs union in 2009.
The primary criterion for investment is the export ability of the plant, according to Fitsum Arega, commissioner of the Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC).
“Because we believe there is a huge demand for the product, we will install two additional pieces of machinery to boost our production capacity in the next ten months,” said Daniel Gebregiorgis, regional sales manager of North East Africa, and general manager of the plant.
Out of the total products, the company is targeted to sell 60pc of the diapers to infants with an age of up to four years. To promote its products, the company partnered with Meseret Defar, the renowned two-time gold medallist at the Olympic Games, as its Brand Ambassador.
Currently, in the local market, on average, a single unit of diapers is sold for eight Birr.
Before launching the new manufacturing plant, Tracon Trading Plc was supplying disposable hygiene solutions such as diapers in Ethiopia since 2010, as a sole distributor of Ontex.
The partnership of the two, Ontex Ethiopia, operates as a subsidiary plant of the Belgian parent company. Belgium Ontex was founded in 1979 in Buggenhout, Belgium.
Belgium Ontex is engaged in international business with sales in 110 countries. It has 19 production facilities in 14 countries and 27 sales and marketing sites. It has 11,000 employees. In 2016, its turnover was 1.9 billion euros.
Source : AddisFortune