In a bid to build locally-developed technologies in response to Covid-19 pandemic, Kaduna Polytechnics has designed and developed process plants for the production of medical oxygen and sodium hypochlorite, the Rector, Professor Idris Bugaje, has said.
Addressing reporters in Kaduna on Thursday, Bugaje called on Federal Government, Tertiary Fund (Tetfund), Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), Nigerian Content Development Fund (NCDF) and other research and funding agencies to provide N114 million for the immediate production of the two products to battle the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to the Professor of Chemical Engineering, the medical oxygen could supply medical oxygen promptly and sustainably to all the respirators being operated in Nigerian hospitals, while the sodium hypochlorite is a good agent of fumigation to cleanse surfaces and the environment of infection.
“The Covid-19 Pandemic has exposed Nigeria’s many shortcomings in terms ofpreparedness, medications and equipment in the fight against this novel virus. To address these challenges, many Institutions of Higher Learning, especially Polytechnics and Universities, have made some contributions in design and local development of respirators, manual and automated hand washing machines, ethanol-based sanitizers production, herbal remedies against Covid-19.
“Kaduna Polytechnic management equally decided to set up a ‘Technology Response Team to Covid-19’ domiciled at the Centre for Technology Development (CTD) of the Polytechnic to address the technological gaps in the responses to Covid-19 in Nigeria. The Team has come up, at the moment, with two key interventions that will ensure sustainability of the nation’s response to the pandemic.
“These are: design and development of plant for the production of medical oxygen from air. This could supply medical oxygen promptly and sustainably to all the respirators being operated in our hospitals in Nigeria, which at present relies on imports. The cost estimate covering up to Plant Commissioning is N50 million.
“Design and development of plant for the Production of Sodium Hypochlorite from Table Salt. This shall produce sodium hypochlorite, which is the key fumigant for environmental sanitization in the fight against Covid-19 as against the present import of concentrates that are diluted and sold in the Nigerian market. The cost estimate covering up to Plant Commissioning is N64 million.
“These two chemical plants were designed by our Nigerian engineers, staff of Kaduna Polytechnic. This will be the first time Nigeria is designing and building its own production plants for these chemicals. Even after the Pandemic is over, these products shall be needed by other end users in the nation’s economy such as petroleum and petrochemical plants, metal fabrication factories, water treatment plants, domestic fumigations, etc.
“With the very limited budgets of the Polytechnic, which cannot handle the realisation of these projects, we seek for interventions from well meaning Nigerians to actualize these important plants, to save Nigeria foreign exchange in their imports and ensure we are prepared to frontally address such medical and other emergencies now and in the future.
“We are aware that the Tertiary Education Fund (TETFund) intends to support six medical simulation facilities and 12 Centres of Excellence in Universities across Nigeria in 2020 to address Research and Development on Covid-19. Unfortunately not a single Polytechnic was included in this intervention. This, in spite of the fact that in the past several decades of research interventions from TETFund, PTDF, NCDF and other agencies, the 170 Universities in Nigeria are yet to develop a single technology that Nigeria is using today.
“We must therefore start to develop confidence in our Polytechnics when it comes to innovations in technology. Polytechnics are well positioned to carry out the development and move research carried out in laboratories into production plants to impact the health care system and the economy generally.
“Nigeria cannot wait to get these two important products, medical oxygen and sodium hypochlorite, that could be produced locally by the Polytechnic sector and using simple and easily available raw materials, air and table salt, in the fight against the current pandemic,” Prof. Bugaje said.