[INTERVIEW] Interview: EAHIC:MediPharm is a pioneering event in Europe at the forefront of investing in the African pharmaceutical sector
Africa Business Communities, brings you this interview with Miles Mudzviti, Managing Director, United Communications & Media (Africa), UCMafrica: to throw more light on the 1st Euro-Africa Health Investment Conference to be held in London on 26-27 March 2013.
Please introduce to us your company.
"UCMafrica is a multi-platform business-to-business communications and media company. Our products include live events, the online portal PharmaAfrica.com and newsletters providing news and updates, facilitating business connections in, and engagement with Africa, serving the pharmaceutical market."
How is your company connected to the 1st Euro-Africa Health Investment Conference to be held in London on 26-27 March 2013?
"The 1st Euro-Africa Health Investment Conference:MediPharm scheduled for March 26-27, 2013 is owned and organized by UCMafrica."
What is the essence of the conference?
"EAHIC:MediPharm is the first event of its kind in Europe focusing on investment in the African pharmaceutical industry. In addition to highlighting and showcasing the opportunities for investment in the pharmaceutical sector across the continent, the conference seeks to increase awareness on how to facilitate and enhance Africa’s pharmaceutical capability and capacity to address healthcare needs, contribute to the employment agenda as well as promote collaboration in Africa’s nascent local pharmaceutical manufacturing industry within the public and private sectors. EAHIC:MediPharm will give a comprehensive picture of key issues in the promotion of local pharmaceutical production to improve access to medicines."
What role are the local pharmaceutical manufacturing industry in Africa going to play in this conference?
"EAHIC:MediPharm is conceived with the coordinated continental, regional and national developments to promote local pharmaceutical manufacturing. The conference provides an interactive platform for local manufacturers, international partners, governments and regulators to dialogue and share their concerns and interests as counterparts and potential partners.
Stakeholders will interact and dialogue with Africa-based manufacturers on developments and opportunities in Africa’s pharmaceutical sector, attendant challenges, including local manufacturers’ lack of access to investment capital, technical knowledge and technology transfers, and capacity challenges."
Who is invited and who are the speakers?
"Delegates will include representatives of African and international pharmaceutical companies and associations, Ministries of Health, Industry and Trade, drug regulatory authorities, international organisations and development finance institutions, private equity and health focused funds. High level representatives from the NEPAD Agency, a technical arm of the African Union which is coordinating the African Medicines Registration Harmonization Initiative (AMRH) (http://www.amrh.org) ; and the African Network for Drugs and Diagnostics Innovation (ANDI) (http://www.andi-africa.org) will deliver keynote speeches. Our speaker faculty includes representatives from multinational companies, Africa-based manufacturers and their respective associations, academia and NGOs who will share insights on the development of the industry in Africa."
Why is the conference being held in London and not in Africa?
"The rapidly evolving African pharmaceutical market presents a significant and growing opportunity, not only Africa-based pharmaceutical manufacturers, but also for international companies that are either entering or optimizing presence in Africa. A recent study by global consulting firm IMS Health said pharmaceutical spending in Africa is expected to reach $30 billion by 2016, driven by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.6%, which is second only to Asia Pacific (12.5%) and in line with Latin America (10.5%). A report by the International Finance Corporation, The Business of Health in Africa, Partnering with the Private Sector to Improve People’s Lives, estimated that the market for health care will more than double by 2016, going up to $35 billion. The same report indicated that the life sciences investment opportunity, cumulative 2007-2016 across the region (sub-Saharan Africa, including South Africa) is expected to account for 14 per cent of projected cumulative health care investment opportunities, or about $1.6–$2.9 billion. It added that generic pharmaceutical manufacturing will be the largest single component, representing 40 per cent of the projected investment in the sector.
Clearly, the establishment and promotion of partnerships for technology transfers is a crucial element of building capacity in Africa’s nascent and exciting pharmaceutical manufacturing industry. Access to finance and equity investment is also a common constraint amongst local manufacturers despite returns on pharmaceutical production ventures being high enough to ensure profitability and sustainability. We see the conference as a chance to promote opportunities in the African pharmaceutical markets to an increased and new global audience, some of which may still be unaware or indeed, sceptical about what are very significant opportunities in the pharmaceutical sector across Africa, reflecting strong macroeconomic fundamentals and driven not least by the growth of the middle class, rising healthcare spending and demand to treat chronic diseases.
The African pharmaceutical industry, like any other, competes for attention, access to capital and new technologies with other so-called pharmerging regions across the world. For this reason, we believe that as the pharmaceutical opportunity grows, it is imperative that we highlight this opportunity in front of as many potential investors and partners as possible. In fact, I generally believe that as opportunities across the board in Africa increase, our ‘marketing budgets’ ought to rise as quite clearly as a region we are also competing for limited capital amongst many other emerging opportunities across the world. We are actively working on a follow event that will build on the London conference which will be held in Africa later this year. Venue details and dates will be announced shortly."
How do you see the local pharmaceutical manufacturing sector in Africa, especially when it comes to innovations in healthcare?
"I feel that capacity building and investment in local pharmaceutical manufacturing offers a credible platform not only for innovations that are crucial to turn African research into health products, but also for transition into value added manufacturing. The recent launch of the pan-African drug manufacturers association, the Federation of African Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (http://www.pharmaafrica.com/drug-manufacturers-to-launch-new-pan-african-association/ ) this month, which seeks to demonstrate the role and contribution of the private sector to the implementation of the African Union’s Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa (PMPA) – Business Plan (BP) inspires confidence on the progression of the industry."
What technological challenges do you think is needed in Africa when it comes to biotechnology?
"It has already been shown that a significant amount of health-related research is being carried out across the continent, particularly in South Africa, but it is not being turned into products or treatments in a systematic way which would be of benefit to the continent. I think that technology offers new opportunities for collaborative efforts and ANDI, whose Acting Director will give keynote speech at EAHIC:MediPharm (http://www.eahic.com/speakers/?subject=lineup&_year=EAHIC%3AMediPharm+2013&artist=23 ) , has been very proactive with its recently established centres of excellence established across the continent driving health innovation."
What change would you like to see in the Pharmaceutical market in Africa?
"Our vision as a company is the growth of a quality Africa-based pharmaceutical industry competitively contributing to the healthcare needs of Africans and recognized in the global pharma arena. We are excited about the various initiatives around local production and regulatory developments that are being driven by various stakeholders."
What is the latest about your company?
"We are looking forward to continue working with stakeholders and partners as we scale current offerings to our clients and the market that we serve. Of course, we are always open to, and continue to explore, new strategic partnerships that will allow us to serve our clients more effectively."
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