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Top pharma companies in India are working on to a stronger India-Africa trade relationship

24th Sep, 2020
Top pharma companies in India are working on to a stronger India-Africa trade relationship

“We have been a staunch supporter of developing the capabilities of the African population to make Africa a global standard for pharmaceuticals. Africa is key destination for export of pharmaceuticals from India as almost 20% of our exports go to Africa.”

Mahidhwaj Sisodia, EVP – International Business, Cadila Pharmaceuticals, one of the top pharma companies in India, recently participated in a panel discussion titled ‘Future-proofing Africa’s development with world-class and affordable health solutions’ in 15th CII-Exim Bank Digital Conclave on India Africa Project Partnership, where he shared the stage with Ministers of Health from Congo, Nigeria and Republic of Sudan and prominent healthcare leaders from India. He talked about the emerging healthcare industry in Africa. This panel discussion was focussed on how India-Africa trade relationships have been growing over the years, the pharmaceutical sector in Africa and what does the future hold post COVID.

“Cadila, being a global pharma company from India, is really proud of being one of the earliest players in the African market. Our journey has been an exciting one, thanks to the visionary leadership of our founder Chairman Shri Indravadan Modi and the current Chairman and Manging Director Dr Rajiv Modi. As an organization, we have always been very appreciative of local cultural sensitivities and the norms which prevails there. We have always believed, the way to grow in any region is to develop the local skills.

While starting out, we had to deploy manpower from India starting from construction to the operations of our Ethiopian plant. But gradually we started building the local skills. We have empowered the local leadership and people to take over and lead the operations. The secret to our acceptance was that we always considered ourselves as a local company by adapting their culture and values. We also worked with them by helping them with training, knowledge sharing and with development of their capabilities. As time passed by, we were able to flourish based on years of experience we collected over the years.”

For any trade relationship to grow, support by the local authorities and governments is extremely important. Without policies and encouragement from the government bodies, commerce between countries cannot flourish.

“Africa has been a supporting partner for the pharma organizations of India since years. A mutually benefiting relationship, Africa provides a conducive environment for the industry while the top pharma companies in India support the healthcare community of Africa. The secret to flourishing India-Africa relationship is a common global outlook and shared aspiration for growth.

Governments on both sides have been working to build better platforms for trade. For e.g., in 2016 India’s first India-Africa Science summit was organized in New-Delhi which was a start to a new era. I was proud to be part of it along with my organization’s team. In 2019, an MOU was signed between ICMR and African Union which focussed on health sciences, R&D, capacity building, pharmaceutical trade etc. This MOU took the entire relationship to the next level. I must admit that there has been significant progress in the way we co-operate, however I believe this can go beyond simple trading. It can be expanded to multiple areas and as long as Africa continues to look at India as a partner, not only as a trading partner but also as a partner in developing their R&D abilities, technical skills, etc., the possibilities are limitless.”

COVID-19 pandemic has taught all of us that, only availability of medicines is not enough and there has to be a proper focus on other healthcare avenues as well. One example would be, in Nigeria, Ethiopia and Egypt, they have less than 2000 beds in their ICUs against the population of 400 million. This teaches us all that we need to redouble our efforts and bring in other reforms such as infrastructure. Only then the local communities will be able to benefit from this partnership.”

While making his final comment on the business relationship between India’s top pharma companies in India and Africa, Mahidhwaj said, “The business partnership between India and Africa is growing, however a more holistic progress to made with deeper engagement between both sides.”