Operationalising pharma manufacturing hubs in Africa: Policy options for the EU
Africa’s health systems are overdependent on international markets. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that African countries need to become self-reliant and boost their own pharma production. Karim Karaki and Pamella Eunice Ahairwe analyse the challenges of building regional pharma centres and share recommendations for European policymakers.
Health systems in Africa are overdependent on international markets. Africa imports more than 90% of the pharmaceutical products and 99% of the vaccines.
Health systems in Africa are overdependent on international markets. Africa imports more than 90% of the pharmaceutical products and 99% of the vaccines. While it is costly for individual countries to manufacture pharmaceutical products, adopting a regional approach could help solve this problem. Regional manufacturing hubs can benefit from economies of scale and exploit the potential opportunities that African Continental Free Trade Area and the regional economic communities provide.
Africa aspires to make regional pharma manufacturing a reality. Europe is interested and has already taken steps to support Africa in developing operational regional pharma manufacturing hubs. However, there are several mishaps along the way. This report outlines the main challenges in seven policy areas – coordination, market dynamics, access to technology, trade and regional integration, regulatory framework, skills, knowledge and expertise, and health systems. It explains how these challenges presently undermine the establishment of regional pharma manufacturing hubs.
Addressing the prevailing barriers is a demanding task. It requires all relevant stakeholders in Europe, Africa and beyond to work together in a constructive and complementary way. This report also presents recommendations (as outlined in the executive summary on pages iv, v and vi) for the European policymakers and development partners, including development financial institutions, on how they can support the evolution of sustainable and well-functioning regional pharma centres in Africa.