Which countries are expected to hire in the african pharmaceutical sector ?

Posted by Fed Africa in Career advice
Posted at 14/09/2022
Which countries are expected to hire in the african pharmaceutical sector ?
The pharmaceutical industry currently is one of the most dynamics sectors on the african continent. Following the COVID-19 crisis, which highlighted medicine production and import-export challenges, the access to affordable and good-quality products is now a main objective for the whole continent.

In 2021, 54 African countries co-sponsored a resolution on local manufacturing of medicines, medical technologies and vaccines, which was presented at the WHO World Health Assembly. Alongside this political awareness, investors are also taking a fresh look at the African pharmaceutical sector, attracted by the continent's supply-demand imbalance. As a result, an increasing number of global drug manufacturers can be expected to set up operations in Africa in the coming years.
Finally, the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA), which came into effect on January 1, 2021, is expected to help unify the market fragmentation that has long discouraged investors from engaging in local pharmaceutical manufacturing. These promising developments have naturally created new jobs in this rapidly changing sector. With Africa now clearly committed to making its own medicines, here's a look at some of the top African countries recruiting in the pharmaceutical sector. 

South Africa 

South Africa's pharmaceutical sector is currently booming. With total pharmaceutical spending estimated at $3.6 billion in 2020, South Africa is the largest pharmaceutical market in sub-Saharan Africa. The country also has the world's largest antiretroviral program and is one of the world's leading producers of radiopharmaceuticals. Like many countries on the continent, the Covid-19 pandemic has revived interest in local vaccine production. Local pharmaceutical companies are now expected to play a central role in the production and supply of COVID-19 vaccines and other drugs. Recognizing the country's potential, Aspen, Biovac, and NantSA have recently made the move to South Africa. Last January, the American company NantSA announced the establishment of a vaccine manufacturing plant. This plant should eventually employ between 400 and 600 people. All these signs indicate that the South African pharmaceutical sector has a bright future ahead. 


With annual investments of 700 million dirhams (about 660 million euros) and a turnover of 14 billion dirhams per year (13.1 billion euros), the Moroccan pharmaceutical industry is the second largest in Africa. With 40 laboratories, 33 production sites, 50 distributors and more than 11,000 pharmacies, the Moroccan pharmaceutical industry covers most of the domestic demand and exports 7 to 8% of its production to sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and even Europe. This dynamism, coupled with the kingdom's pan-African commitment, should position the country as a continental leader in the sector and create a growing number of jobs. 


Another leader in the sector in Africa is Egypt, where 85% of the Egyptian population's drug needs are produced in the country. The future of the Egyptian pharmaceutical industry is bright, especially with the opening of Gypto Pharma City in Khanka, Greater Cairo, one of the largest pharmaceutical cities in the East, in April 2021.
Gypto Pharma City is one of the largest pharmaceutical cities in the Middle East as the country seeks to become a regional drug manufacturing hub. The new city will not only help reduce the import bill of drugs from abroad, but will also push Egypt to export drugs internationally, especially to Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean countries, at competitive prices. 


Leading multinationals such as Pfizer, Sanofi, Novartis and Merck & Co are all active in the Kenyan market. While the sector is less developed than the first three countries on this list (about 80% of local drug demand in Kenya is currently met by imports), the Kenyan market has significant potential.
Kenya's membership of free trade areas such as the Community of East African States and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) will enable it to sell its local production to the rest of the continent, whose total market is estimated to be worth $13.6 billion. International firms have understood this potential: the American company Moderna plans to invest 460 million euros in the production of vaccines for the African continent and announced on March 7 that it had signed a preliminary agreement with the Kenyan government to set up its first messenger RNA vaccine plant in the country. 


Last but not least, Rwanda. Despite its more underdeveloped pharmaceutical industry, the country has begun to position itself as a major player in the African pharmaceutical sector in recent months. On July 15, the country was selected to host the African Medicines Agency (AMA), which will help develop the drug trade in Africa and harmonize procedures, regulations and standards. This decision will undoubtedly attract expertise to Rwanda in terms of evaluation and quality control of medicines, and more generally of health products, and will also result in investments in this field.
A month earlier, in June, Rwanda also began construction of Africa's first-ever mRNA vaccine plant, owned by the German pharmaceutical company BioNTech. In parallel, the Rwandan government approved the establishment of the Africa Biomanufacturing Institute, which will help develop the workforce and fill the skills gap that exists in the biopharmaceutical sector in Africa.