“Africa must not be left behind” as it has done in past industrial revolutions, Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde told heads of state and international leaders on the sidelines of the 76th General Assembly of Nations United.
Zewde was speaking during a Third Industrial Decade for Africa virtual webinar to discuss ways to strengthen African health systems and the pharmaceutical industry to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.
During a roundtable between African heads of state to share lessons learned from the pandemic, Zewde cited import substitution as a path to increased self-reliance. She said the Ethiopian government had earmarked $ 15 billion to develop industrial parks for vaccine makers, which could benefit from additional incentives.
The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) organized the event with the African Union Commission (AUC), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the African Development Bank, AfroChampions Initiative and others.
“The 2020 experience highlighted Africa’s vulnerability to supply shocks and underscored the need for greater self-sufficiency in the production of vaccines, essential medicines, diagnostics and other health products. health, ”said Li Yong, director general of UNIDO.
“In collaboration with global and African stakeholders, the African Development Bank has formulated a vision and plan for 2030 to develop the African pharmaceutical industry and maximize its potential,” said Abdu Mukhtar, Director of the Bank. Development Africa, speaking on behalf of the President of the Bank, Akinwumi A. Adesina.
To move the plan forward, the Bank had identified “potential nerve centers”, which would anchor poles in each region of Africa, on the basis of a solid regulatory environment, the quality of the logistics and transport infrastructure and the dynamism of the private sector. The business would require $ 11 billion in investment from multiple stakeholders over the next decade, excluding infrastructure, Mukhtar said.
Representatives of the private sector, international organizations and development finance institutions discussed specific challenges to developing domestic manufacturing capacities, including fragmentation, technology transfer and human capital.
Participants noted the importance of scale given Africa’s fragmented markets, and both supply and demand for medicines. “Producing countries must have commitments from neighboring countries to procure drugs,” said Martin Friede, “WHO coordinator for vaccine research.
“The African Continental Free Trade Area opens up new opportunities and creates a pharmaceutical market worth 250 billion dollars, with potential for further growth,” said Amina Mohamed, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations.
Stephen Saad, CEO of Aspen Pharmacare, said: “The ability to license intellectual property to Johnson & Johnson would be a game-changer. He also stressed the vital need to invest more in human capital.