- set to support with financing to boost manufacturing capacity
As part of efforts to make significant in-roads in the healthcare sector, CalBank PLC has partnered with the Ghana National Chamber of Pharmacy (GNCoP) to, among other things, improve the knowledge of stakeholders within the sector and enhance the understanding of the industry.
The duo stressed the need to grow domestic pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity and will be seen championing efforts in that regard.
With the country currently depending on 70 per cent exported pharmaceuticals, Managing Director of CalBank, Philip Owiredu, said his outfit will support indigenous companies with funding to enable them to increase capacity to meet the increasing demand.
“You can see the relevance of the pharmaceutical sector in this country. As a financial institution, we always seek to partner with the very significant sectors in the country to ensure development and growth.
“We saw the numbers when panellists spoke about import of pharmaceuticals into the country and the potential of export we can make, and what impact it can have on our growth, development and jobs. We will finance the whole value chain, talk about projects, distributors and retailers. We even have a specific scheme for retailers, which supports retailing of pharmaceutical products.
“But what we seek to play in the value chain, and not just about financing, is what sort of partnership we can bring on board when it comes to the industry. Talk of cost of financing, how do we support the industry to reduce the cost of financing by partnering with other institutions, which we can bring on board, and other forms of financing which are much cheaper,” he noted.
He said this at the CalBank GNCoP Leadership Conversation Series themed: ‘AfCFTA and the Post Covid Era; the Growth of the Pharmaceutical Sector in Ghana’.
The conversation sought to provide knowledge-sharing and capacity-building platform for stakeholders – practitioners in the pharmaceutical industry, financiers, researchers and policymakers. It also elaborated on how the sector can leverage African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) for growth.
For his part, Chairman of the National Chamber of Pharmacy, Harrison Kofi Abutiate, said COVID-19 has exposed the country’s health vulnerabilities, and there is need to take action.
“The biggest project that we have been discussing with CalBank has been the Pharma Park. We cannot continue being individual players, we have to come together to share the cost so that the economies of scale can help us to produce at lower cost,” he hinted.
Africa must build resilience
Recent data from United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) indicates that Africa manufactures less than two percent of the medicines it consumes, while importing about 70 percent from outside the continent at an annual cost of US$14.5billion.
For the Chief Technical Advisor on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Prudence Sebahizi, Africa must build resilience and invest in the production of pharmaceutical products to reduce its dependence on imports, emphasising that health needs are national security concerns and must be treated as such.
He also said the dependence on imports places Africa in an unsafe position to access essential pharmaceutical supplies – a situation witnessed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I would like to emphasise that the AfCFTA provides opportunities for the development of the continental health industry; Africa has the potential to boost manufacturing. There is the need for a change of mind and attitude on the continent of Africa,” he said.
It is expected that the AfCFTA can facilitate creation of an environment conducive to establishing regional pharmaceuticals, which can be leveraged as a springboard for nurturing African multi-nationals and creating jobs and prosperity.