Africa: The Pharmaceutical Industry


The pharmaceutical industry in Africa is experiencing something like a revolution. This is not just about the fact that over the years the influx of fake drugs into the continent has reduced, it is about something much more. The continent is fast becoming a hub of drug production. Drugs that used to be manufactured in places like India are now being manufactured on the continent and this with the jobs and development that go with production. The beauty of this new African pharmaceutical reality is not even about what has been accomplished but the gaps that still remain to be filled. Africa is indeed a mine of opportunities.


Porto Amboim is in Angola’s Kwanza Sul province. Investors are working on a two-phase project that’d produce saline solution and anti-malarial drugs when completed. The first phase of the project costs $52m and will see Porto Amboim produce 8000 litres of saline solution everyday. The anti-malarial production stage is in the second phase. The investment for this stage will cost about $20.7m.  This is certain to lower the cost of malaria drugs available to the general population and will go a long way in reducing deaths due to malaria in the country.


The World Health Organization (WHO) says Africa carries some 24 per cent of the global disease burden. The onus is now on Africa to shed this bad reality for good. The story of what diseases like malaria, tuberculosis and typhoid have inflicted on the African continent have been told and re-told long before HIV/AIDS came to add the final strike to these deadly scourges. There is now an influx of pharmaceutical companies into the continent, a lot of them Indians. There is an apparent incentive to manufacture in Africa and with India considered the pharmacy of the world, it is no surprise the Indian companies are leading the African push. Cipla and Ranbaxy are leading the way according to African Business magazine. Cipla used to deal with local marketers but it has now set base on the continent to market its drugs directly to the consumers. The company is set to buy Cipla Medro in Africa at just over $500m. Cipla has plans to access the African market using South Africa as its base and start point.


It is important at this point that the continent must be wary of governments’ direct involvement in running the companies. We have been there before as a people and we failed woefully. Government should provide the environment for pharmaceutical businesses but like other businesses, government has no business in this business. Governments’ business is regulations.


The continent has since moved from the image of malnourished children to a thriving economy. Africa would need a healthy population to drive itself toward sustainable prosperity. Efforts must be put in place by governments to reduce the bar for the establishment of pharmaceutical companies while not betraying professionalism and global best practices. The continent is ripe for development and it is set to take off. Everyone must be carried along and it is important that young people and women remain part of the drive to create jobs and to reduce the incidence of diseases on the continent. It sure helps that Africa will be manufacturing its own drugs and the fight against fake imports will no longer be necessary because local production is bound to translate to cheaper drugs. Africans will be the better for it.


~ @omojuwa







Omojuwa focuses on the Phamarceutical Industry in Africa