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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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Uncontrolled Illegal Activities Threaten Ghana’s Fishing Sector

In Ghana, about 2 million people rely on these fish for their food and income

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Fishermen in the Nungua area of Accra wait for canoes to come in with their catches. (S. Knott for VOA) .VOA

On a beach in Ghana’s capital, Accra, fishermen from the Nungua community are waiting for the vibrantly painted canoes to return from sea with their catch of small fish to be sold at the local market.

In Ghana, about 2 million people rely on these fish for their food and income.  But trawlers, run almost exclusively by Chinese operators using Ghanaian front companies, are illegally targeting this staple catch and selling it back to local communities at a profit in a practice called saiko, according to a report from local NGO Hen Mpoano and the Environmental Justice Foundation.

Kofi Agbogah, director of the NGO, says saiko used to just be a regular practice where fishermen would meet trawlers at sea and exchange the trawler’s catch for goods they were carrying.

“Today it has become a multimillion-dollar business where trawlers are harvesting fish that they are not licensed to harvest and sell it back to some canoes — I will call those canoe business people,” he said. “They are not traditional fishers. They just go out there without nets, they buy the fish from the trawlers, and come and sell it in some designated ports.”

Illegal, Ghana, Fishing
On a beach in Ghana’s capital, Accra, fishermen from the Nungua community are waiting. Pixabay

Destroying livelihoods

The report found that in 2017, industrial trawlers caught almost the same amount of fish as the local fishing sector when illegal and unreported catches were taken into account. It also found the practice of saiko also destroyed the livelihoods of local fishermen.

Fisherman Frederick Bortey wants the government to banish those behind illegal fishing.

“My children are not getting money to go to school,” he lamented. “So it is very painful that we are talking about it. They can try and sack those people for us. We would like that, so we can fish, too, in our own country.”

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Bortey and his colleagues say they also face fellow fishermen undertaking illegal practices using fishing lights, where a light is beamed into the water to attract fish.

Ghana’s government says it is focused on tackling such issues. But if nothing happens soon, Agbogah warns that ordinary people will suffer.

“What happens if the fishermen don’t fish anymore?” He said their homes will become “coastal ghost towns” as young people “begin to move across the desert in an attempt to go to Europe.” (VOA)