The African Development Bank and the Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have signed a memorandum of understanding for $3.56 million in grant funding to support the development of pharmaceutical industries in West Africa.
Lamin Barrow, Managing Director of the Bank for Nigeria and Mamadou Traoré, ECOWAS Commissioner in charge of Industry and the Private Sector, signed the agreement for the Pharmaceutical Industry Development Support Project in West Africa on Wednesday.
The project’s total cost is $3.77 million, to which the ECOWAS Commission will provide $200,000 in cash and $400,000 in-kind.
The funds will support the implementation of regulations to allow duty-free access to pharmaceutical raw materials, packaging, and finished products under the ECOWAS Common External Tariff. It will also help establish an effective regional pharmaceutical regulatory ecosystem by providing technical assistance programs for regional regulatory authorities.
Commissioner Traoré said: “Local production of pharmaceuticals and biologicals has become an imperative and a regional priority, as is the provision of healthcare delivery services. The African Development Bank’s support of these priorities will help ECOWAS achieve its development objectives.”
During the signing ceremony held in Abuja, the African Development Bank’s Director General for Nigeria, Lamin Barrow said: “The COVID-19 crisis has further exposed the fragility of our national healthcare systems and posed significant disruptions to the global health and pharmaceutical supply chains. This underscores the urgency of accelerating efforts to ensure a minimum level of supply of health products.”
The project will enhance the pharmaceutical industry’s competitiveness through improved quality and product standards and help ensure that the region complies with best practices in manufacturing pharmaceutical products and supplies. It will strengthen regional training institutions and laboratories to ensure that the required skills are available to support the industry’s regional growth in a gender-sensitive and environmentally friendly manner.
In response to calls from the African Union and the pharmaceutical industry, the African Development Bank has taken a leadership role in developing and driving a continental Vision and Action Plan for a new African Pharmaceutical order. Bank Group President Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina announced last year that the institution would mobilize up to $3 billion to support this development.
The project will also advance the Bank’s efforts to support the harmonization of the regulatory environment for pharmaceuticals across Africa at the regional and continental levels. This, in tandem with the operationalization of the African Continental Free Trade Area, will deepen intra-African integration and trade, boosting regional markets.
The Bank’s Vice President for Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialisation, Solomon Quaynor, said: “To develop the pharmaceutical industry, the African Development Bank will help to develop local production capacities to increase the market share of African (local and regional) pharmaceutical production value to 45-55% by 2030.”
The project aligns with three of the African Development Bank’s High Five strategic priorities: Industrialize Africa, Integrate Africa, and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa. It also advances the Bank’s Regional Integration Strategy for West Africa, and is in line with the Bank’s gender strategy, and its strategic response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The ECOWAS Commission will be the executing agency for this project, which will run for two years, starting from 2022. The West African Health Organisation will be the implementing agency.