UG’s School of Pharmacy Unveils State-of-the-Art Neem-Based Sanitizer Production Equipment Donated by UNIDO

In an era of persistent health challenges, the University of Ghana's School of Pharmacy has unveiled state-of-the-art neem-based sanitizer production equipment donated by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

The donation and installation of the equipment were in aid of the school’s plan to bolster public health and enhance social resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic. It forms part of an ongoing collaboration between the African Regional Postgraduate Programme in Insect Science (ARPIS) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), which seeks to fortify domestic supply chains for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), disinfectants, and hand hygiene supplies. The donation included grinders, mixing tanks, a mixer and filter press, and bottling and packaging machines.

The project is targeted at using the Circular Economy (CE) approach to improve national production capacity and envisions significant short-term healthcare improvement and long-term socio-economic stability for Ghana.

Providing an overview of the project during the handover ceremony, Professor Kwame Banga, Chairman of the School of Pharmacy Hand Sanitizer Production Committee, enumerated the successes achieved under the project. He stated that the activities undertaken during the project included feasibility studies, resilience coaching in technology, and a training workshop at the Institute of Pesticide Formulation Technology (IPFT) in India.

"We have been able to adopt greener technologies and create an eco-friendly product line, thereby balancing our efforts in improving public health and protecting the environment," said Prof. Banga in his address, emphasizing the project's key accomplishments.

“One of the major outcomes of the project is the successful establishment of state-of-the-art equipment for the production of neem-based hand sanitizers, showcasing the project's sustainable and environmentally friendly approach to public health. A pilot production of the sanitizer was conducted, and the first samples of the neem-based hand sanitizer were presented during the ceremony,” he added.

The Chairman expressed his delight at this accomplishment, asserting that the project's success enhances Ghana's ability to respond effectively to pandemics in a sustainable manner.

Prof. Banga extended heartfelt gratitude to Prof. Kwame Afreh-Nuamah(Principal Investigator - PI), Prof. Ken Okwae Fening (Co-PI), Mr. Ebenezer Budu-Biney (Project Manager), UNIDO, and the Dean of the School of Pharmacy, Prof. Isaac Julius Asiedu-Gyekye, for their invaluable contributions to the success of the project. He also commented on the future of the project, noting that “looking ahead, the School of Pharmacy aims to register the product with the Food and Drug Authority (FDA), scale up production, and market its environmentally friendly product. We hope the project serves as a beacon of innovation, collaboration, and resilience in the face of adversity.”

Speaking on behalf of the project team, Prof. Ken Okwae Fening said the project was a follow-up to successes chalked in the execution of a previously sponsored UNIDO project using neem-based pesticide for agricultural purposes.

He enumerated a series of events, including surveys, training at the Institute of Pesticide Formulation Technology (IPFT) in India, company resilience training workshops in Accra, installation of the hand sanitizer production equipment, and pilot production. 

He noted that the activities were a sequel to the handing over of the equipment to the beneficiaries.

Prof. Fening acknowledged Professor Felix Asante (Pro VC, ORID), Professor Irene S. Egyir, Dean of the School of Agriculture, and Professor Isaac Asiedu-Gyekye, Dean of the School of Pharmacy and the staff for facilitating and contributing to the successful implementation of the project.

The United Nations Industrial Development Organization Representative, Eric Gyenin, who gave brief remarks, mentioned that “it's our responsibility as UNIDO to support Ghana in developing its industrial processes while considering the country's context. The project is a single intervention by UNIDO to support SME companies affected by the pandemic and ensure a sustainable impact on businesses.”

He highlighted that “UNIDO has supported a considerable number of SMEs. We had several companies but chose Green-Gro/Ayewa Aberfur Ltd and the University of Ghana for sustainability, ensuring the continuity of the project and fostering a culture of continuity. We will continue to monitor their progress, seeking opportunities for further collaborations, and, when possible, referring other companies to them, particularly financial institutions and other financial agencies for support.”

He underscored the importance of the partnership between industry and academia, with the support of Professors from the University of Ghana, and expressed UNIDO's satisfaction in assisting and supporting industrialization in Ghana through the collaboration with ARPIS and the School of Pharmacy.

Representing the Dean, the School Administrator, Mrs. Victoria Ameka, thanked UNIDO, ARPIS, and members of the School of Pharmacy who contributed to the project and the installation of the equipment. She gave the assurance that the equipment  would be well maintained to ensure its longevity and its optimum use.

The momentous handover ceremony which was a pivotal moment for the School was moderated by Mr. Ebenezer Budu-Biney and was attended by Dr. Mansa Fredua-Agyeman (Head of the Department of Pharmaceutics and Microbiology), Dr. Grace Lovia Allotey-Babington (the Production Manager), Mr. Adams Kofi Kpebu (the School Accountant) and some members of the Production Team.

A group photo after the ceremony


The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) has been working with the University of Ghana (UG) on neem-based products for some time now. UNIDO’s first ever neem-based project with UG was in 2015-17, titled “Promotion of neem-derived bio-pesticides in West Africa” for agricultural purposes. The first neem-based project was hosted by the erstwhile Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR) under the then College of Applied and Consumer Sciences (CACS) to train farmers of the A.G. Leventis Foundation Farmers’ Training Programme to adopt and use neem-based pesticides, which are user and environmentally friendly to produce safe crops for the consuming public. The Farmers’ Training Programme benefited from a neem-seed processing plant donated by UNIDO, and it is currently situated at LIPREC.

The second neem-based project started in 2021 and leveraged on previous experiences with UNIDO to produce bio-based hand sanitizer products. The project is aimed to promote public health and social resilience against COVID-19 by strengthening the domestic supply chains of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), disinfectants, and hand hygiene supplies with a Circular Economy (CE) approach. UNIDO transferred the technology from India, and it was to be adopted to suit the local conditions to produce sanitary products as a more preferred user-friendly, less hazardous alternative to inorganic products.

A team of experts from the School of Agriculture who implemented the project conducted surveys on the preference for the bio-based products, and to identify local manufacturers who would adopt and upscale the bio-based product. Department of Pharmacology, School of Pharmacy, and Green-Gro/ Ayewa Aberfur Limited were selected for the pilot project. Subsequently, UNIDO sponsored a three-man delegation comprising a representative each from the project team and the beneficiary companies to visit India for training on the neem-based formulation and production process.

As part of the project, UNIDO donated two sets of hand sanitizer production equipment to the Department of Pharmacology, School of Pharmacy, and Green-Gro/Ayewa Aberfur Limited, a local green manufacturing company in Accra. The equipment includes grinders, mixing tanks with agitators, Natscher filters, Cartridge filters with pumps, and bottling and packaging machines. 

A pilot production of the sanitizer was conducted, and the first samples of the neem-based hand sanitizer were presented during the handing-over ceremony.