Healthcare Projects worth $140 million on the table in West, East Africa

During a virtual investor roundtable, members of the Africa Investment Forum team showed two projects as the continent strives to enhance its healthcare industry and attract much-needed investment in the aftermath of the Covid-19 outbreak.

The projects, which are valued around $140 million and are located in East and West Africa, were showcased for possible investors.

The first chance, with a project cost of $96 million, is for the establishment of a 250-bed specialized hospital delivering world-class healthcare services in a West African country. The land has been obtained and feasibility assessments have been conducted.

The second involves the development of a $45 million WHO-prequalified vaccine manufacturing factory in East Africa, which will be capable of producing three vaccines on a regular basis, including Covid-19.

Following the talks, a panel of investors shared their perspectives on investing in Africa’s healthcare industry. The panelists included Rhulani Nhlaniki, Pfizer’s Sub-Saharan Africa Cluster Lead; Jean-Philippe Syed, Principal at private equity firm Development Partners International; Afsane Jetha, Managing Partner & CEO at private equity firm Alta Semper Capital; Stavros Nicolaou, Aspen Pharmacare’s Senior Executive – Strategic Trade; and Dr. Dumani Kula, Evercare Group’s Chief Operating Officer for Africa. Aubrey Hruby, Senior Fellow of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center, moderated the discussion.

According to Nicolaou, the fact that Africa has the largest illness load of any continent makes preventative treatment, including vaccinations, all the more crucial for Africans. The increased demand for medicines will need the formation of partnerships capable of overcoming obstacles such as research and development.

Other difficulties raised by attendees included overcoming cold chain and last-mile delivery issues, as well as approaches to scale up experimental technologies such as the use of drones to aid vaccination distribution.

The Africa Investment Forum’s Unified Response to Covid-19 pillars include health as one of five priority investment areas. Agribusiness, energy and climate change, ICT/Telecoms, and industrialisation and commerce are the others.

Last week, Africa Investment Forum Senior Director Chinelo Anohu mentioned the East Africa vaccine facility idea in the context of Africa’s present restricted access to Covid-19 vaccinations at a panel discussion hosted by the University of Edinburgh. Anohu believes that the continent may prevent vaccination inequities through trade and investment, particularly in its pharmaceutical industry.

Kenya plans to build vaccine factory within six months

Kenya intends to establish a vaccine manufacturing factory in Embakasi, Nairobi, over the next six months.

President Uhuru Kenyatta stated that the company, known as Kenya Biovax Limited, will aid in the country’s access to vaccines.

“By Easter next year, the Ministry of Health should be operationalizing this enterprise to manufacture vaccinations in our country,” he remarked during his Mashujaa Day (heroes) address.

Kenya wants to establish full-fledged vaccine production capabilities by 2024, according to the National Covid-19 Vaccine Deployment Plan.

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the inadequacy of vaccine production facilities in Kenya and other African countries, leaving the region vulnerable to vaccine shortages. So yet, just around 1% of Africa’s population has been properly immunized against coronavirus.

Kenya Biovax is anticipated to be a fill-and-finish facility, where vials with vaccinations will be filled and packed for delivery. Many pharmaceutical companies outsource this final production procedure to third parties. These facilities package and deliver ready-made vaccinations.

The Nairobi facility will be erected in the Embakasi depot of the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa). According to the Ministry of Health, the factory will also manufacture other vaccinations such as polio drops.

Vaccine components will be imported in large quantities. The vaccinations will be manufactured, packaged in vials, labeled, and delivered at the new facility.

In May, the Health Ministry said that negotiations with Oxford AstraZeneca manufacturers were ongoing to import substantial amounts for repackaging in vials. According to the authorities, the discussions are nearly over.

The government stated that because the region is highly inhabited, the Kemsa Kitengela depot was disregarded as a potential location for the plant.

“We have gone for what we term the APIs, which are the active pharmaceutical ingredients,” said Willis Akhwale, head of the vaccines deployment group. We’ve found a partner, and we’re now under nondisclosure, so a lot of information isn’t public. We must first sign.”

US billionaire to manufacture Covid, cancer vaccines in S. Africa

Patrick Soon-Shiong, a biotech millionaire, has announced that he will begin transferring technology to South Africa in order to manufacture Covid-19 and cancer vaccines.

In an online news conference with President Cyril Ramaphosa, the South African-born and now-US-based doctor detailed the proposal that would see coronavirus vaccine production begin next year. Within the following three months, Shiong’s business NantWorks will transfer the technology, and vaccine manufacturing is scheduled to commence in 2022.

The government’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the South African Medical Research Council, and the Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation, as well as four local institutions, according to a statement from Ramaphosa’s office.

Aside from vaccinations, the NantWorks project will focus on cell-based immunotherapies, which might lead to novel cancer treatments.

Soon-Shiong, a physician from California, described this as “a momentous event in my life; it’s been a life ambition to look at technology we can bring back home.”

“We now have the expertise and technology to manufacture vaccines in Africa,” he continued. “It is my hope and wish that Africa would benefit from this technology.”

The investment, according to Ramaphosa, is a “game changer” for South Africa.

“This collaboration will drive South Africa and Africa in general to the forefront of healthcare, research, technology, and innovation,” Ramaphosa added.

This is the third pharmaceutical manufacturing investment announced in South Africa this year, the pandemic’s worst afflicted country on the continent.

In the southern city of Gqeberha, once known as Port Elizabeth, Aspen Pharmacare is filling and packing Johnson & Johnson injections.

The World Health Organization has chosen South Africa to host an mRNA manufacturing centre, with Biovac of Cape Town completing the final “fill and finish” phase for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

Rwanda Medical Supply Ltd signs $75m contract with USAID

Rwanda Medical Supply Ltd (RMS) has secured a contract with USAID for $75 million to increase the efficiency of Rwanda’s health product supply chain.

The agreement was inked on September 3 and is scheduled to last for five years.

The “Transforming Rwanda Medical Supply Chain (TRMS)” initiative will act as the principal vehicle for procuring and delivering health commodities to end users.

The first phase will focus on providing HIV/AIDS goods, followed by Malaria, Family Planning, Maternal and Child Health items, and other health commodities.

RMS is scheduled to acquire over 350,000 multi-month supply bottles of the very effective HIV treatment medication as one of the first operations financed under this contract.

Dr. Daniel Ngamije, Minister of Health, stated that the initiative seeks to enhance RMS’s planning and management skills.

“It would boost operational efficiency, capacity to use data in decision making, and guarantee proper and timely purchase and distribution of health commodities to last mile service delivery points,” he added.

He went on to say that the first few years will be devoted to delivering HIV/AIDS goods under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

The effectiveness of the country’s pharmaceutical supply chain, despite the fact that it is a complicated industry, impressed the USAID Rwanda Mission Director, Jonathan Kamin.

“This is noteworthy for Rwanda, a supply chain performance leader on the continent, because it is now the beneficiary of one of the largest direct commodity procurement contracts with a local supply chain organization from USAID.”

“Direct collaboration with capable local organizations is critical to USAID’s objective of strengthening local self-sufficiency.” Kamin made a comment.

According to Pie Harerimana, CEO of RMS, this fund would address the issue of capacity building by allocating funds to teach staff to operate properly.

He went on to say that the initiatives are intended to address operational inefficiencies, long procurement procedures, inventory management gaps, and inadequate order fulfilment rates, among other things.

The formation of RMS Ltd was a government of Rwanda initiative aimed at strengthening the pharmaceutical supply chain system with the ultimate goal of ensuring the availability of quality medications in health facilities for the people.

Ethiopia gets 108,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine from AVAT

As part of the first monthly shipment of Johnson & Johnson vaccinations, the African Vaccination Acquisition Trust (AVAT) announced the arrival in Ethiopia of 108,000 vaccine doses.

AVAT is delighted to announce that, 108,000 vaccination doses of Johnson & Johnson single-shot vaccines will be shipped to Ethiopia. This is part of a total shipment of 6.4 million vaccine doses to African Union member countries in August 2021. Members who bought vaccinations through AVAT will continue to receive shipments for the foreseeable future. UNICEF provides logistics and delivery services to Member States in conjunction with the Africa Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP).

These shipments are part of a historic COVID-19 vaccine advance procurement deal signed by AVAT on March 28, 2021 for the purchase of 220 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson single-shot COVID-19 vaccine, with the option to acquire an additional 180 million doses. The agreement and the beginning of delivery represent the first time that African Union Member States have jointly acquired vaccinations to protect the African population’s health. The 400 million vaccinations obtained by AVAT are enough to immunize one-third of Africa’s population.

The deal with Johnson & Johnson was made possible by a USD 2 billion facility granted by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), which also serves as the Financial and Transaction Advisers, Guarantors, Instalment Payment Advisers, and Payment Agents. The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) provided technical support with the financial arrangements and the AU Ministers of Finance’s alignment.

The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia’s Minister of Health, Lia Tadesse, hailed the delivery of the vaccinations, saying, “The acquisition of these vaccines would strengthen our national COVID-19 immunization program- in addition to helping the current COVID rollout.”

The African COVID-19 Vaccine Acquisition Task Team was established in November 2020 under the African Union chairmanship of HE President Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa, as part of the African Union’s COVID-19 Vaccine Development and Access Strategy, with the goal of vaccinating at least 60% of the African population with safe and effective vaccines.

This vaccine purchase and deployment is also backed by an innovative collaboration between the World Bank and the African Union, African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team, which aims to increase access to vaccinations across the continent.

UK Export Finance invests in Six Hospitals Project in Africa

The UK’s export credit agency has granted its largest-ever loan to West Africa to encourage UK exports. UK Export Finance (UKEF) has agreed to lend EUR 241 million to NMS Infrastructure, a Sub-Saharan African infrastructure project developer.

The dual-tranche facility will assist NMS Infrastructure in the development of six hospitals under an export contract with the Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene of Côte d’Ivoire. The total project, at EUR 326 million, is for the design, construction, and equipment of six hospitals in Bouaké, Boundiali, Katiola, Kouto, Minignan, and Ouangolodougou.

It is envisaged that the project would provide equipped and contemporary healthcare locations that will serve over a million local inhabitants.

The funding arrangement makes use of both buyer credit and direct loans to the government of Côte d’Ivoire.

The development of the project has already commenced, with completion expected for 2024.

GKB Ventures, a boutique consultancy firm designated consultants to the Côte d’Ivoire’s Ministry of Economy and Finance, led a tender process for the project’s funding, together with an international loan syndicate.

MUFG Bank was named preferred lender and mandated lead arranger for the project’s finance after the bidding procedure ended.

The borrower’s legal adviser on the project was KSK Société d’Avocats, a law company in Abidjan, with Ashurst acting as legal advice to the lenders.

This project is a high priority for the government of Côte d’Ivoire, and procuring a commercial credit prior to the facility granted by UKEF “allowed the project to move quickly,” UKEF noted in a news statement on 5 August.

UKEF has allocated GBP 2 billion to new business support in Côte d’Ivoire.

HM Trade Commissioner for Africa Emma Wade-Smith said in a statement, “This record-breaking UKEF facility in West Africa underlines the UK government’s strong commitment to promoting sustainable economic growth throughout the African continent.”

Wade-Smith also stated that the loan “further illustrates the positive impact that UK businesses are having in Africa, working in collaboration with governments and the private sector to foster growth, investment, and job creation.” It also highlights the tremendous range of opportunities we see for UK firms wanting to grow and expand into new African markets.”

HM Ambassador to Côte d’Ivoire, HE Catherine Brooker, added that the project is critical for modernizing the country’s healthcare facilities, saying, “Thanks to the UK government’s support, through UKEF, UK companies are ideally placed to support infrastructure development in West Africa and seize the huge export potential that brings.”

Nigeria’s Helium Health launches health tech in Kenya

Helium Health, West Africa’s leading provider of Electronic Medical Records (EMR) and Hospital Management Information (HMI) Systems, has announced the debut of its entire array of products and services in Kenya for the first time.

Helium Health, in collaboration with three local providers, Philips Healthcare Technologies, Carepay, and Savannah Informatics, will integrate new services, including an EMR, to serve the whole East African market.

“We’ve been preparing to enter Kenya’s burgeoning health tech industry since last year, so we’re really thrilled to be getting started in 2021, already collaborating with three new local partners to assist increase efficiency and deliver better patient care. We feel there is a significant opportunity to use cutting-edge technology to enhance the way healthcare data is collected and managed across Africa, therefore collaborating with like-minded healthcare providers and institutions in Kenya is a good fit for us,” said Tito Ovia, co-founder of Helium Health.

“We are convinced that we can play a big role in aiding both Kenya’s public and commercial healthcare sectors,” said Jean Kyula, Country Manager for Helium Health Kenya and formerly a National Health Service (NHS) doctor in the UK. “We’re ecstatic to announce that we’ve opened for business in Nairobi, where we’re already cooperating with three new partners and expanding into Uganda and Liberia. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the critical role of technology in healthcare, as well as the need to continue developing better systems, more remote access solutions, and improving efficiencies in our healthcare sector, so we look forward to working with more partners, doctors, hospitals, and clinics as we move forward,” she added.

Helium Health successfully concluded a US$10 million Series A investment round in May 2020 (the highest fundraise of any SaaS healthcare company in Africa) to scale and grow the business in both existing and new countries, increasing its reach across East, North, and Francophone West Africa. Helium Health has previously worked with clinics in Uganda and Liberia, enrolling 90-plus users in early 2021, and is now expanding its services to Nairobi.

Helium Health provides a comprehensive array of solutions that span the whole healthcare value chain, from electronic medical records (EMR) and hospital management information (HMI) systems to credit and telemedicine. Helium Health’s technology is currently used by over 300 healthcare providers and 5,000 health professionals in Nigeria, Senegal, and Ghana, allowing healthcare facilities to easily accept payments and issue invoices, access quick funding, and hold televisits with their patients, making it easier for patients to get diagnosed from the comfort of their own homes.

Helium Health was awarded the IFC IT Emerge award in 2020, which connects creative health tech entrepreneurs with premier healthcare providers in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda to launch pilot initiatives and form long-term relationships. Helium Health’s technology will be tested in the East African market.

Afreximbank launches AMCE project in Nigeria

The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) announced the start of its African Medical Centre of Excellence (AMCE) project in Abuja, Nigeria.

It will deliver world-class care to patients of all socioeconomic backgrounds across the continent.

The Bank recently formalised its long-term partnership with King’s College Hospital, London (KCH) on the project by signing an agreement naming KCH as the AMCE’s Clinical Partner.

The Abuja AMCE’s construction is set to commence in the fourth quarter of 2021, with completion slated for the first quarter of 2024. The African Medical Centre of Excellence will be built in four phases over the course of six years, beginning with a 170-bed specialised hospital and eventually extending to a 500-bed institution.

Following a competitive bidding procedure in which Ghana, Kenya, and Tanzania all participated, Nigeria was chosen as the host nation for the first AMCE in 2017. A pre-feasibility study commissioned by Afreximbank and completed by KCH in 2015 identified the four nations as potential host countries.

“The establishment of the African Medical Centre of Excellence marks a turning point in the continent’s history. We are happy to be concretizing our goals through this project, which was designed as part of Afreximbank’s 5th Strategic Plan,” said Professor Benedict Oramah, President of Afreximbank.

“With general care capabilities that will service the whole West African area and beyond, the Abuja AMCE will address the growing burden of communicable and noncommunicable illnesses. It is a pilot project that will inspire similar medical facilities across the continent.”

The AMCE intends to provide a comprehensive spectrum of medical services, including diagnostics, therapy, nuclear medicine, surgery, and post-surgical care, as well as complementary specialised services in oncology, haematological illnesses (including sickle cell and blood malignancies), and cardiovascular maladies.

“We are thankful for the considerable assistance from the Nigerian government and are delighted to have King’s College Hospital as our partners. We are excited to benefit from their world-class experience in medicine, medical research, and training,” Professor Oramah said.

The Abuja AMCE will not only improve access to healthcare for 50,000 people per year, but it would also create 3,000 employment throughout its development and operation.

As a result of the AMCE’s establishment, Afreximbank hopes to contribute to the provision of high-quality healthcare, expanded service offerings, training, increased employment, the preservation of foreign exchange in Africa, and the development of intra-African medical tourism.

Sir Hugh Taylor, Chair of King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, stated, “We have a long tradition of delivering specialised healthcare locally, nationally, and globally at King’s. We are pleased to be expanding our clinical knowledge in services such as haematology and cardiology to assist the people of Nigeria and Africa more broadly.”

Africa sees a $1.3 billion increase in healthcare investments

Africa’s healthcare faces many problems, ranging from inadequate infrastructure to a shortage of funding, but technology is changing healthcare delivery in the continent.

It is critical that Africa’s rapidly expanding young population, which is expected to be the world’s largest workforce by 2040, has access to high-quality healthcare in order to reap the rewards of this generational dividend.

For prospective buyers, these challenges offer a plethora of business opportunities. In Africa, the private sector is becoming increasingly significant in funding healthcare.

The healthcare sector in Sub-Saharan Africa has grown significantly in the last two decades, according to an AVCA survey. Between 2015 and 2020, 97 private equity (PE) and venture capitalist (VC) investments totaling US$1.3 billion were made in Africa’s healthcare sector.

Nigeria, Morocco, Egypt, South Africa, and Ghana are the top five countries in terms of the number of PE and VC fund contributions in healthcare in Africa between 2015 and 2020. Deals in the healthcare market accounted for 8% of overall transaction value in 2019 and 2020, demonstrating investors’ continuing commitment to closing the continent’s healthcare gap.

In 2020, Africa’s share of total reported deal value rose to 16% of total reported deal value, up from 3% in 2019. The overall amount of final closed PE & VC funds in Africa between 2015 and 2020 was US$18.1 billion. Half of this came from funds with healthcare as a focused industry in their investment mandate.

Nearly half of all healthcare in Sub-Saharan Africa is provided by the private sector, and nearly 60% of the continent’s healthcare funding is provided by private sources.

When asked why healthcare investment is growing in Africa, Ugo Iwuchukwu, Brands and contact manager at Helium Health, said, “The situation with the latest investments into African healthcare is a melting pot of a lot of things.” For starters, it was unavoidable. Healthcare is an industry that concerns everybody, and it lags behind contemporary sectors like banking and even telecommunications in terms of technological advancement. Consider how you can make almost any trade online, but you can not do any healthcare operation online. As a result, it has always been a position where value could be added by all stakeholders.

“Second, the pandemic unintentionally shone a spotlight on the state of global healthcare, demonstrating what people like Helium have been saying: there is a lot of work to be done to develop not only Nigeria, but the whole global healthcare sector. As a result, what was already simmering prior to the pandemic gains traction.”

As more players come on board and technology is gradually being used to solve numerous healthcare issues around the continent, digital technology is becoming more prevalent in Africa’s healthcare market.

While investment in the healthtech sector is still in its infancy relative to other sectors such as fintech, the race has obviously started, and it will only be a matter of time before we see the fintech sector’s progress mirrored in healthcare across Africa.

Egypt’s Misr Capital launches a $380m healthcare investment platform

Misr Capital, Banque Misr’s investment arm, and Elevate Private Equity have unveiled Nile Misr Scan & Labs, a $380 million healthcare investment platform.

After seeding initial contributions Banque Misr’s cash pledge and Elevate Private Equity’s in-kind contribution to the platform, the platform managers hope to raise $150 million before the first closure in Q1 2022.

Elevate Private Equity has established a solid track record as the strategic manager of Nile Scan & Labs Co, achieving a 38 percent CAGR over the last four years, effectively making it the fastest growing healthcare entity in Egypt and the country.

Nile Misr Healthcare is built on the two partners’ strong investment and medical expertise, which will actively manage the fund strategy and acquire highly selective targets with high potential across healthcare verticals such as hospitals, diagnostic facilities, pharmaceuticals, medical education, and digital medical services in Egypt and Sub-Saharan Africa.

“Responsible investments come at the top of Misr Capital’s priorities, particularly in sectors like healthcare that contribute to the society in which we operate,” said Akef El Maghraby, Chairman of Misr Capital and Vice Chairman of Banque Misr.

“Investing in healthcare not only brings meaningful, tangible benefits to society, but it also aligns with the UN’s Sustainable Development Target 3 and the UN’s Principles of Responsible Investments.”

Tarek Moharram, a healthcare veteran with over 14 years of experience leading, creating, and expanding medical institutions in Egypt, will lead the platform as CEO.

“This collaboration combines Elevate Private Equity’s technological and strategic capabilities with Misr Capital’s esteemed financial and investment track record, resulting in the formation of a forum that will aggressively seek M&A transactions in the extremely fragmented healthcare spaces around our target jurisdictions. Our long-term strategy is to create bigger, integrated institutions that offer robust, world-class healthcare to larger communities across Egypt and Sub-Saharan Africa, while also having a positive effect on the broader economies and providing superior returns to investors,” he added.

“Most notably, the platform is founded on a comprehensive expertise set that includes veteran healthcare specialists, seasoned financial executives, and a deep line-up of established investors backed by Banque Misr, one of Africa’s oldest and most renowned banks,” he said.

Following the fulfillment of all requisite permits, the platform is scheduled to sign its first selling and purchasing agreement (SPA) within weeks. Misr Capital’s financial and tax advisors were Ernst & Young Egypt, and its legal advisors were Alliance Law Firm and Al Kamel Law Firm.