The Factory: Photos & Highlights




At a Glance ...


The establishment of the Port Harcourt Auto-Disable Syringe Factory began in November 2004, when the groundbreaking ceremony launched Phase 1. Build & Equip — during which the factory, adjacent buildings and roads were constructed and all equipment was purchased, transported to the site and installed. The factory reached "production readiness" in the fall of 2008. In celebration and to kick off Phase 2. Commissioning & Trial Production, local and national Nigerian dignitaries gathered for the factory-commissioning ceremony on 27 October 2008. Phase 2. activities were completed during 2009. Factory operations are now underway.

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• completed •  • completed • • now •

Phase 1.

Build & Equip

Phase 2.

Commissioning &

Trial Production

After PAHF:

Factory Operations


Phase 1. Build & Equip


The project's Phase One, Build & Equip, began with the 30 November 2004 groundbreaking ceremony presided over by His Excellency Olusegun Obasanjo, then President of Nigeria. Phase One was completed in the early fall of 2008.


Then President Obasanjo (center, in red hat) lays the cornerstone for the Port Harcourt AD Syringe Factory, during the groundbreaking ceremony in November 2004. President Obasanjo and all speakers pledged their total commitment towards the completion of the AD syringe factory.

The PAHF-supported AD syringe factory is located near Port Harcourt in the Delta region of southern Nigeria, along the coast of the Gulf of Guinea.

The factory complex: Located at Ozuoba-Obio (Akpor Local Government Area), the PAHF-supported AD syringe factory is near the city of Port Harcourt in Rivers State, Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The Rivers State Government donated approximately four hectares (10 acres) of flatland to serve as the site for the factory complex. No rivers, creeks, streets or paths cross the site. The east–west road, a major interstate connection into Port Harcourt, runs about 200 meters from the site. As a contribution to the project, the Rivers State Government built an access road connecting the factory site to the interstate — thus facilitating the transportation of equipment, raw materials and finished products as well as easing staff commutes.

The factory complex consists principally of an administration building and the much larger factory building.


From the construction plans, an illustration of the Port Harcourt AD syringe factory. The factory complex occupies four hectares of flatland. Pictured above are the parking lot (left), the administration building (middle: blue roof) and the factory (right: largest building, white roof).


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The technology: At present, there are seven different auto-disable (AD) syringe designs on the world market. The Star K1 technology was selected.



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Construction sign outside the factory site.

Construction and equipping: In May 2005, PAHF Nigeria entered into a consultancy service agreement with Cemcon AG of Austria to provide “project design, engineering and supervision services.” In October 2005, following a competitive bid process, PAHF Nigeria awarded the civil works contract to Gitto Costruzioni Generali Ltd. In August 2005, following an international competitive bid process, PAHF Nigeria selected the manufacturers and suppliers of various production machinery and equipment.

Construction finished in early 2007. All equipment was installed between late 2007 and summer 2008.

Thus, by the fall of 2008, the factory was ready to be "commissioned": that is, it was deemed to have been built and equipped and to be structurally able to begin operations. Phase 2., Commissioning & Trial Production, was launched in October 2008.


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Inside the factory building, Nigerian workers building the factory's roof.
Construction is finished; equipment installation is about to begin.

Nigerian support: Among important developments during the Build & Equip Phase were the following:

 In May 2006, then-President Obasanjo launched a “Marshall Plan for the Niger Delta”: the Niger Delta Development Commission.

 Then-President Obasanjo designated the PAHF-supported Port Harcourt AD syringe factory to be a priority project for the Niger Delta Development Commission.

 In June 2006, then-President Obasanjo set up an Implementation Council and charged the council with the responsibility to see that the factory is completed. That high-level council was inaugurated in July 2006:


The President of Nigeria

Other members:
• The Federal Minister of Health of Nigeria
• The Federal Minister of Commerce and Industry of Nigeria
• The Federal Minister of Finance of Nigeria
• The Governor of Rivers State
• The Rivers State Commissioner of Health
• The Rivers State Commissioner of Works

 Also in June 2006, then-President Obasanjo recommended establishing the Project Building Committee, to operate under the Implementation Council’s authority and thereby to guarantee linkage between the above-mentioned national officials and local officials and stakeholders. The Project Building Committee was constituted in October 2006 with the following members:

Examining construction documents are (left to right) Cemcon's Peter Roggenland, site engineer and project manager; then PAHF USA Chairman, General Roger R. Blunt; and PAHF Nigeria Executive Secretary, Amenya Wokoma.
Factory equipment arrives at the project site. Trucks carried the equipment from the nearest port.


The Rivers State Commissioner of Works

Representative, The Federal Ministry of Health of Nigeria

Other members:
• The Rivers State Commissioner of Health
• Legal Advisor, The Federal Ministry of Health of Nigeria
• Group General Manager (Medical), Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation
• Representative, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC)
• Executive Secretary, PAHF Nigeria (Mr. Amenya E. Wokoma)


 It was agreed in late 2006 and early 2007 that the Port Harcourt auto-disable syringe factory would be owned and operated via the Government of Nigeria. Management via the Nigerian government would be fully transparent. PAHF Nigeria would be represented on the factory’s management board. And the government-managed factory would deliver the same benefits of the originally-planned, privately owned factory:

• Technology transfer to Nigeria.

• Skills training and employment of local Nigerian people.

• Good use of local raw materials and other locally-available resources.

• Long-term factory sustainability as a result of a well-formed business plan, operating on a not-for-profit basis.

• Support of the “long-term vision of an African-owned and African-led development programme,” as outlined in the African Union’s New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD).

• And most important, deployment of a large supply of “safe syringes” that will reach Nigeria’s poorest, most rural clinics (and hopefully, similar clinics in other countries via export).


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OCT. 2008 - MID-2009: COMPLETED

Phase 2. Commissioning & Trial Production


The Commissioning and Trial Production Phase began in the late fall of 2008, with the factory-commissioning ceremony. "Today," explained PAHF founder Yuichi Ishimaru, "we are actually at a start and not a finish line. The challenge going forward will be to ensure that the plant is operated properly, maintaining global standards on a sustainable basis."

The Commissioning & Trial Production Phase — which focused on worker recruitment and training, purchases of raw materials and supplies, and initial factory operations — was completed in 2009.

On 27 October 2008, Nigeria's Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Hon. Dimeji Bankole (wearing white robe), cut the ribbon and thereby "commissioned" the PAHF-supported Port Harcourt auto-disable syringe factory. Also pictured are (left to right) Governor Sylva of neighboring Bayelsa State; Mr. Bankole; then PAHF USA Chairman, General Roger Blunt; PAHF founder, Mr. Yuichi Ishimaru; and Governor Amaechi of Rivers State (where the factory is located).


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After PAHF • Factory Operations


PAHF Nigeria — as a Nigerian-incorporated and -registered not-for-profit, non-governmental organization — directly established the AD syringe factory and, since the completion, has remained involved in an advisory capacity. Principal long-term issues now being addressed include:


Technical Operations

Production processes: The factory is designed to carry out the following processes of AD syringe production:

• Moulding of piston and barrel
• Printing of barrel
• Assembly of syringe
• Sterilization of syringe
• Packing of syringe
• Storing in quarantine store

As part of its goal to bring maximum economic benefits to the community and region, the factory is using local suppliers as much as possible. Polypropylene, the factory’s main raw-material requirement, is being sourced from the nearby Eleme Petrochemicals Complex. However, some of the other raw materials, such as needles, medical packaging paper and sterilization gas, are imported.


Product quality: The AD syringes meet the following standards of quality:

• ISO International Standard 7886 – Sterile hypodermic syringes for single use, Part 1: Syringes for manual use
• WHO specifications E8/DS.1 and E8/DS.2
• A future, not-yet-published ISO standard for AD syringes

Additionally, the ethylene oxide sterilization process guarantees five years’ sterility after production date for syringes in unharmed packages.


Production capacity: Annual production capacity of the factory is 160 million pieces, with the following details:

 • 0.5 ml K1 AD immunization syringe with needle lock
 • 1 ml and 2 ml K1 AD curative syringe with needle lock

 110 million*

 • 5 ml K1 AD curative syringe with needle lock

 50 million

* As the 2 ml, 1 ml and 0.5 ml syringes are identical, apart from the location of the ridges within the barrels and the graduated scale, the product mix for those sizes can be easily adjusted to meet market demands.


The annual production capacity is based on the following assumptions:

• Annual working time of 7,920 hours: i.e., 330 working days, 24 hours per day
• 4-shift (3 + 1 stand-by) production, with about 300 workers including the O&M contractor)
• Utilization of production machinery: 85 to 90 percent


In view of the erratic and unreliable nature of the electricity supply from the public grid in Nigeria, the factory has an independent power supply from two 600 kVA diesel generators.


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Outside the completed factory building. Adjacent is the administration building.
As construction nears completion, this view shows the road between the factory building (left) and the administration building (right). In the background is the complex's water tower.
The administration building, adjacent to the factory.

The factory operates on a not-for-profit, cost-recovery basis. As a government-owned entity, and with no need to repay loans or make profits for shareholders, the factory is able to produce and sell AD syringes at internationally competitive prices.

The factory sells its products through bulk-purchase arrangements with credible buyers such as African Ministries of Health and UNICEF. Agreements with those buyers ensure that the syringes reach their targeted end-users; and the buyers gain a reliable supply of international-quality AD syringes at a price that is substantially less than what they were currently paying (up to 10 percent less, representing, in part, the transportation and clearing costs of imported syringes).

Given the buying pattern of its target market, the factory’s selling, marketing and advertising costs are kept to a minimum. Bulk-purchasing arrangements also support the factory’s long-term sustainability, because its products will have guaranteed outlets. The long-term nature of the bulk-purchase contracts (with the Nigerian government ministries, UNICEF and other major suppliers) enables the factory to customize to suit the needs of the local market and build domain expertise. That approach also allows the factory to create close relationships with key buyers, further strengthening its market position.

UNICEF is currently the biggest buyer of AD syringes for immunization. The Nigerian Federal Ministry of Health’s (FMOH) National Programme on Immunization is also a major bulk-buyer of immunization syringes. For curative AD syringes, the FMOH is the targeted bulk-buyer for distribution through its network of secondary and tertiary hospitals; and the FMOH’s National Primary Health Care System is the targeted bulk-buyer for use in its campaign to combat the spread of diseases caused by syringe re-use. FMOH, as Nigeria’s apex public health agency, is encouraging the various State Ministries of Health to purchase in bulk from the factory.

Key elements of any plan for the bulk-purchase of AD syringes include the following:


 The syringes are manufactured, sterilized and packaged to meet ISO 13485 & WHO specifications and standards of quality.

 The products are priced on an ex-factory basis.

 The prices are internationally competitive: they will be equal to or less than the average weighted price paid by UNICEF for its internationally-procured AD syringes.

 A revolving Letter of Credit scheme is employed to guarantee payments.

 The syringe prices, as expressed in Nigerian nairas, is indexed to a U.S. dollar benchmark (for example, UNICEF’s average weighted purchase price) to protect the Port Harcourt factory against foreign exchange risk.


In addition to the aforementioned bulk-buyers, the factory’s management team (including PAHF Nigeria in an advisory capacity) may partner with organizations such as the Nigerian Medical Association, the Pediatricians Association of Nigeria, the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria and other NGOs to ensure that AD syringes are accepted by, as well as available and affordable to, the health facilities and their patients who are the intended end-users.

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Though the factory required donations to fund its establishment, it is continuing on an operational cost-recovery basis. Sales proceeds are being re-invested to ensure continuous production; and because the business model is inherently scaleable, the factory is able to adjust capacity in line with growth in business volume.

Various operating-cost estimates and revenue projections prepared early on by PAHF show that, under reasonable conditions, the factory can break even and operate as a viable entity over the long term. The bases and key assumptions of those financial projections are as follows:


 All cost and revenue parameters are U.S. dollar denominated (naira-based costs, e.g., the cost of local labor, are converted at the rate of US$1 = N135).

  The dollar inflation rate is held at zero for both cost and revenue sides of the financial projections.

 Syringe selling prices are fixed at a 5 percent discount on UNICEF’s year 2003 weighted average buying prices for similar AD syringes.

 Factory capacity utilization is 100 percent, after the first year.

 Because the factory was built with donated funds, there are no requirements to amortize capital expenditures, repay loans or pay stockholder dividends.

 As a Nigerian government entity, the factory is not required to pay company income tax or other taxes.


In choosing the Star K1 AD syringe technology, the factory became a member of the Star Alliance, which includes all current manufacturers of K1-type AD syringes worldwide. For alliance members, the UK-based Star Syringe, Ltd., carries out research and development as well as providing ongoing technical support; in turn, alliance members share their own manufacturing-and-marketing “best practices.” Participation in the Star Alliance allows the Port Harcourt factory to keep abreast of technological developments and world market trends, without itself incurring the high costs of research, development and market-intelligence gathering.

Combined with the technical plans, the business plans and other aspects of the factory’s configuration, its ownership by the Government of Nigeria only adds to its sustainability. Over and above what has already been noted, the government has demonstrated its earnest desire to engage in the public/private partnership that is the Port Harcourt AD syringe factory:


 His Excellency Olusegun Obasanjo has served since the beginning as the (honorary) Grand Patron of PAHF Nigeria: a position he has continued to hold after leaving the country's presidency.

 An inter-ministerial committee was constituted to coordinate the Nigerian Government’s support.

 At both national and Rivers State levels, the Nigerian Government donated the equivalent of millions of dollars in cash and in-kind donations: the majority of the budget.

 The current Nigerian government leaders — including Nigerian President

Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Governor Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State — have continued priority support for the factory.


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Updated: December 4, 2009.

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