Countdown to Africa Business: Health Forum

Alyssa GovindanNews

Africa is on the rise. With various economic indices pointing towards Africa as the next great economic hub, it is time for business to focus on her most critical driver – her people. Healthy people will ultimately be a viable pool for driving the economic changes we are witnessing across Africa, achieving the enormous potentials of a young and vibrant continent.

While Africa has made significant progress in health outcomes, ensuring universal access to quality healthcare remains a key challenge. Provision of healthcare in Africa is constrained by a scarcity of public funds and limited and unpredictable donor funding, which together account for nearly 57 per cent of total health sector spending. Governments can only do so much, and there is considerable scope to leverage the capital and capacity of the private sector to complement government financing and increase investments. Additionally, many promising areas of engagement with the private sector remain under-invested. These include laboratory and diagnostics, pharmaceuticals, skills development, research and capacity building, and ICT and innovations.

On February 12th, on the margins of the African Union Summit, Addis Ababa will host a gathering of African public and private sector champions to discuss innovations and investments that will deliver transformative health outcomes across the continent.

The Africa Business: Health Forum (AB:HF) aims to strengthen partnerships, promote an ongoing dialogue between the African private and public sectors, and foster opportunities for the private sector to contribute towards the collective efforts of key stakeholders in strengthening national health systems in Africa. Addressing systemic health challenges is not something that a single company can do alone, but requires collaboration amongst many stakeholders who are accountable, share risks and experience.

The forum will culminate in the launch of the African Business Coalition
 for Health (ABCHealth), a shared vision of the Aliko Dangote Foundation and GBCHealth, to catalyze an African-led coalition that 
will mobilize a core group 
of private sector champions through a coordinated platform, to advance health outcomes and shape health markets across Africa.  With over 400 companies generating $1 billion in revenue, and a thriving SME industry accounting for some 80% of the continent’s workforce, the coalition believes that Africa is well positioned to look out for itself and do big things for self.

“The time is ripe for the private sector to proactively demonstrate its value in partnering to lead a new era in development,” says Aliko Dangote, health champion and Chairman of Dangote Group.

The forum will also launch the Healthcare and Economic Growth in Africa report. This report is expected to put current realities and projections in the right perspective with the aim of guiding investments and shaping narratives around health in Africa.

Healthcare systems in Africa need to adapt quickly to the challenge of coping with a heavy and growing caseload of communicable and non-communicable diseases simultaneously. With a large population of 0–14 year olds, and a rapidly increasing population of the elderly (65+), countries need to strengthen their national healthcare systems to respond to the very different healthcare needs of these two age groups.

The health and well-being sector has major market opportunities in Africa forecast to be worth hundreds of billions of dollars (over $250 billion) in 2030, with the potential to create over 16 million jobs. It’s further estimated that 14 per cent of all business opportunities in the health and well-being sector globally will arise in Africa, second only to North America with 21 per cent. 
Within this context, there are numerous opportunities for the for-profit private sector to engage in the health sector across varied industries such as pharmaceuticals, digital technology, financial services, IT and communications, and logistics and transportation.

A high-powered plenary will discuss Health as a Major Economic Driver with panelists including:

  • Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Board Chair, GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance
  • Herbert Wigwe, GMD/CEO, Access Bank
  • Abebe Selassie, Director, Africa Department, International Monetary Fund
  • Awa Marie Coll-Seck, Former Minister of Health and Social Action, Senegal

Access Bank, believes that investment in health is non-negotiable. According to Group Managing Director Herbert Wigwe, it is the smart 
thing for businesses to do. When people enjoy better health, they are more productive and when productivity is high, communities thrive and, by extension, the economy prospers.

Three parallel sessions will discuss ‘Public- private partnerships – case studies;’ ‘The domestic mobilization of funds for health;’ and ‘Transforming the health landscape – health research and innovation.’ These sessions, which will run concurrently, are expected to analyze and examine various initiatives, innovations and investments in the African health space.

“We believe we can scale initiatives happening on the African continent – it is good for African businesses, it is good for African health and it is certainly good for the African economy,” says Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

We are confident that the deliberations at the Forum will inspire strategies and tactics towards realizing a healthier Africa. Investing in health in Africa is increasingly attractive to the private sector and to companies to promote economic development, enhance worker productivity and the quality of human resources in health, thereby creating new markets and improving the conditions under which firms operate.

 “We have an opportunity to demonstrate how investing in health and creating healthier populations, can help business maximize shareholder value, accelerate economic growth and make entry into new markets more feasible,” says Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, visionary and GBCHealth Co-Chair.

The Africa Business: Health Forum (AB:HF) is jointly organized by Aliko Dangote Foundation, UN Economic Commission for Africa and GBCHealth. For more information click here. Add link about live streaming.

Alyssa GovindanCountdown to Africa Business: Health Forum