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West African market to be tapped by Indian pharma companies

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Accra: The two-day IPHEX Africa trade exhibition in the Nigerian commercial capital of Lagos will witness the arrival of a 70-member team from India, looking for opportunities to tap into the pharmaceutical sector of Western Africa. The team will be aiming to increase their exports there.

The Pharmaceutical Export Promotion Council of India(Pharmexcil) told reporters in an email exchange that the February 18-19 exhibition aims to showcase “the advanced technologies that are being developed by Indian pharmaceutical companies and also to enable the Indian companies to renew their contacts with Nigerians and also with neighbouring countries.”

The exhibition comes at a time when international consulting firm McKinsey said in a report last year that “the value of Africa’s pharmaceutical industry jumped to $20.8 billion in 2013 from just $4.7 billion a decade earlier. That growth is continuing at a rapid pace”, and predicted that “the market will grow into a $40 billion to $65 billion by 2020”.

McKinsey said the projected growth was good news for pharmaceutical companies seeking new areas of growth as developed markets stagnate, adding that it was equally so for “patients who have gained access to medicines previously unavailable on the continent”.

Mckinsey’s projected that between 2013 and 2020, prescription drugs are expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of six per cent, generics at nine percent, over-the-counter medicines at six percent and medical devices at 11 percent.

What is likely to work in favour of the Indian companies is Mckinsey’s projection that Africa’s population dispersal is undergoing a massive shift. “By 2025, two-fifths of economic growth will come from 30 cities of two million people or more; 22 of these cities will have GDP in excess of $20 billion. Cities enjoy better logistics infrastructure and healthcare capabilities and urban households have more purchasing power and are quicker to adopt modern medicines,” the report added.

It said that “between 2005 and 2012, Africa added 70,000 new hospital beds, 16,000 doctors and 60,000 nurses. Healthcare provision is becoming more efficient through initiatives such as Mozambique’s switch to specialist nurse anesthetists and South Africa’s use of nurses to initiate anti-retroviral drug therapy. The introduction of innovative delivery models is increasing capacity still further”.

“To create a more supportive environment for business, governments have introduced price controls and import restrictions to encourage domestic drug manufacture; required country-specific labeling to reduce counterfeiting and parallel imports; and tightened laws on import, wholesale, and retail margins,” the report said.

What this means is that Indian companies will now have to find a way of building partnerships to penetrate this growing market.

Indian companies can take a leaf from Mckinsey’s recommendations that “global pharmaceutical companies need local business partners, manufacturers, packaging companies, and distributors to help them navigate the continent’s many markets with their widely-varying consumer preferences, price points, manufacturing and distribution infrastructures”.

“In the absence of a pan-African pharma regulatory body, they also need to invest in local partnerships to understand varying regulatory environments. Partnerships with governments are equally important, whether they involve working with medical opinion leaders to guide research priorities and secure funding, or collaborating with health ministries and non-governmental organizations to provide public-awareness campaigns, health screening, treatment, equipment, and training for hospitals and clinics,” the report added.(Francis Kokutse, IANS)

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Innovation and Startup Culture Thriving in Ghana

Ghana is seeing a spurt in Innovation & Technology

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A worker using his innovation inside Nelson Boateng's Nelplast Factory
Inside Nelson Boateng's Nelplast Factory in the outskirts of Accra, Ghana, a worker creates bricks from recycled plastic and sand. VOA

ACCRA – Ghana is regarded as a West African hub of invention, with growing numbers of young people looking at local solutions to local problems.  In December, Ghana is hosting two conferences on innovation and technology.

Alhassan Baba Muniru, co-founder of the Recycle Up company, wants to clean up the natural environment in Ghana.

But he also wants to educate, empower and support young people to pursue conservation – and to make money while doing it.

At the December Innovation Africa summit in Accra, he plans to advocate for more support for young inventors, especially those looking to do green business.

“Even while we are in school we are already entrepreneurial so, for me, I can be able to do a formal job but the freedom of being able to bring my own ideas into action and really take charge of doing something practical and something which also makes society better – it’s much more fulfilling,” said Muniru.

Alhassan Baba Muniro talking about Innovation
Alhassan Baba Muniro wants to clean up and create jobs for young people. VOA

Part of Recycle Up’s work includes collecting plastic from schools to sell to people like Nelson Boateng, whose company mixes it with sand to create bricks.

Muniru and Boateng walk through the factory in the outskirts of Accra, where plastic from across the city is shredded, melted, mixed and then molded into bricks to be used for roads, pavements and buildings.

Boateng, who also manufactures plastic bags, said the bricks are his way of helping to clean up the environment and to provide jobs.

But while Ghana is seeing a spurt in innovation, he said the country needs a lot more infrastructure to support environmentally-friendly business.

“For innovations in Ghana, it’s very, very difficult if you don’t really have the heart.  You will lose hope because honestly speaking when I was doing my polybag that is polluting the environment, I was having a lot of money.  I have money, there wasn’t any problem. When I started this, when you go to the bank they don’t know this, they want something that the money will be flowing, not something you people don’t know –  and not something you say you are trying to save the environment, nobody will mind you on that,” he said.

Supporting local technology startups is expected to be discussed at another December conference in Accra – the second annual Ghana Tech Summit.

ALSO READ: India: Innovation Holds the Key to Job Crisis.

Ghanaian inventor Andrew Quao is working to ease the burden on hospitals with technology that allows pharmacies to diagnosis and monitor chronic and tropical diseases.

Andrew Quao, Co-founder of 'Red Birds' helps in innovation and startup.
Andrew Quao, Co-founder of healthcare tech startup ‘Red Birds’ works with pharmacies across Ghana. VOA

He said African healthcare sectors like Ghana’s are ripe for innovative solutions.

“I think it is growing in the right direction, I think the climate is good, you have got a good mix of local talent and experience and expats coming in and seeing Ghana as a good point to start, so that also works.  We have the ‘brain gain.’ The diasporans – people like myself who schooled in the U.S. – coming back and trying to bring innovations in country,” said Quao.

While both public and private sectors are backing innovation, entrepreneurs hope to see a swell of support from the Innovation Africa and Ghana Tech summits. (VOA)