African pharmaceutical sector expected to grow tremendously

With a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of more than 10 per cent, Africa
is the second most dynamic pharmaceutical market after Asia Pacific with a
pharmaceutical spending expected to reach $30 billion by 2016.

The recent first pharmaceutical sector seminar held in Tunisia revealed that the African pharmaceutical sector is expected to grow tremendously in the coming years.   Further, Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) promise a bright future for the African pharmaceutical industry. This is according to the African Press Organization.

The summit was the first platform to bring together high-level policy-makers, health ministers, industry, trade and finance, CEOs, experts from pharmaceutical manufacturers, universities, institutions and organizations to debate the future strategies of Africa’s pharmaceutical industry. The summit was further aimed at highlighting the need of the PPPs which are more than ever necessary to seize opportunities in this sector and improve the health of Africans.
In an interview with Gazette Business, Pharmaceutical Society of Botswana (PSB) chairman, Bathusi Kgosietsile said Botswana is a developing country with a relatively steady economy and democracy. “This attracts all sorts of investors; good and bad. Hence Botswana is at risk of being exploited in the name of economic growth,” he said.

He acknowledged that indeed the pharmaceutical industry is growing in Africa despite some challenges, adding that the  PPP is a good model to combat problems that come with this growth. For instance, private sector can play a role in delivering pharmaceutical services to the public which will relieve burden from the state.

Kgosietsile said the industry is still faced with the absence of manufacturing firms, leading to high cost of drugs. There is also shortage of pharmaceutical personnel resulting in compromised service delivery to patients and overworking of the human resource. “As the industry grows, there is risk of sub-standard products; i.e. counterfeit drugs and to some extent pharmacy personnel complain about remunerations,” he added.

In addressing this spate of challenges, he said there is need to start a pharmacy school to train levels beyond diploma and government to incentivize and support endeavours to start manufacturing. Furthermore, Kgosietsile highlighted that there is a need “to vigilantly vet out all the drugs allowed into Botswana as well as develop more effective PPP programs to address the growing demand for pharmaceutical care.”

Meanwhile, at the summit in Tunisia which drew over 130 participants from around the world, Abdellatif Mekki, Tunisian Minister of Health expressed his support for the development of African partnerships in this emerging economic area. He said that such partnerships would significantly improve the access to medicine and harmonization of laws in Africa.

Mthuli Ncube, Chief Economist and Vice-President at the African Development Bank, pointed out, “Although the African pharmaceutical market represents only two per cent in global terms, it is the fastest-growing in the world,” he said. “There is a window of opportunity considering the strong demographic dynamics, the growth of the consumer spending power in Africa, although the continent accounts for the bulk of the global infectious disease burden.”
The Gazette  Business  understands that the AfDB has embarked on an ambitious program to support its 10 Year strategy for 2013- 2022. Through the Human Capital Development Department, the Bank has defined its priorities for the pharmaceutical industry supporting private-sector development and regional economic integration.

Investments in skills and technology are also at the centre of the Bank’s development agenda.