The paramount Chief of Akwamu State, Odeneho Kwafo Akoto III, has signed an agreement offering a 100-acre land to a US-based Ghanaian Surgeon, Dr. Michael Obeng, and his organisation MIKO Pharma | R.E.S.T.O.R.E Worldwide for the construction of a US$50million pharmaceutical plant.
At a ceremony to finalise the agreement, Dr. Obeng said the first-class pharmaceutical plant will assist in curbing challenges and risks associated with counterfeit medications imported from other countries.
He also said this will decrease the nation’s heavy dependence on imported pharmaceuticals, stressing that Ghana imports 80 percent of its pharmaceuticals.
“The Ghanaian pharmaceutical market is made up of approximately 30 percent locally produced drugs and 70 percent imported products. However, the Ghanaian government has emphasised the need to manufacture more locally produced medicines over the next decade, an ambition it shares with many African governments.
“Ghana’s pharmaceutical manufacturing sector directly employs approximately 5,000 workers. About 10 manufacturers account for 80 percent of the total industry output,” he said.
Dr. Obeng further stressed that the project will create employment opportunities for about 200 people throughout its first and second phases, adding that the plant will also have a vaccine centre which will enable Ghanaian virologists to produce vaccines for the sub-region.
“As the vision of the pharmaceutical plant has expanded, we are now also incorporating a vaccine centre and a world-class research laboratory – which will not only increase job creation but also bring scientists from all over the world to come live in Ghana and work,” he noted.
Speaking on the theme ‘Drugs by Africans for Africans’, Dr. Obeng said his outfit sees a bold vision of Africa starting to constructively contribute to the pharmaceutical sector through manufacturing, processing and harnessing the collective power of Africa to put forward an agenda of pharmaceutical emancipation.
On his part, the paramount Chief of the Akwamu traditional Council, Nana Odeneho Akoto III, expressed the readiness of his town to support the project in every way possible.
“We have always recognised the need for capacity building in healthcare and healthcare infrastructure, and this initiative couldn’t have come at a better time when we all have to come together as traditional leaders, government and the private sector inclusively to prioritise putting our people’s healthcare in the forefront,” he said
He also reiterated that the project will create employment opportunities for people in the community while contributing to development of the Akwamu state, which is in the Asuogyaman district of the Eastern Region.
“In terms of employment, we are not going to bring people from other places to come and work on this construction. People from Akwamu state and its environs are going to gain a lot of employment to work.
“And as you can see, we also have people who are in schools studying pharmacy and sciences, and this will give them the needed opportunity. This will generate income and a lot of activities, as well as expand the place,” he said.
Tapan Shah, Executive Director at Sushen Medicamentos – a global healthcare organisation whose focus is on drug delivery research and product development, also said: “If there is one thing that the pandemic has taught us, it’s that Africa is fertile with innovation and there’s a massive opportunity for the continent to transform its healthcare. With our broad experience in pharmaceutical product development, as well as its modern research facilities, we are thrilled to be part of this vision”.
The Pharmaceutical Plant project
The first-class pharmaceutical plant project officially commenced in 2018 when it broke ground in Kumasi, Ghana. However, it came to a halt in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Dr. Obeng, COVID-19 gave the project a broader prospect, and as the vision expanded it became imperative to acquire bigger premises; and so the Paramount Chief, Odeneho Kwafo Akoto III and the Akwamu state agreed to become an equity partner and donated 100 acres of land at Akwamu in the Asuogyaman district in the Eastern Region of Ghana toward building the pharmaceutical plant.
The pharmaceutical market
According to the Goldstein report, Africa is the only pharmaceutical market where genuinely high growth is still achievable. The value of Africa’s pharmaceutical industry jumped to US$28.56billion in 2017 from just US$5.5billion a decade earlier. That growth is continuing at a rapid pace, and it has been predicted that the market will be worth US$56billion to US$70billion by 2030.