AfDB, ECOWAS commit $3.56m to boost Pharmaceutical Industry

By Elizabeth Christopher, Abuja

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The African Development Bank and the ECOWAS Commission have signed an agreement to boost the pharmaceutical industry in West Africa.

The agreement was signed in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital to increase local manufacturing of high-quality, safe, effective, and accessible essential medicines, pharmaceuticals, and vaccines in the region.

The Director General of the African Development Bank AfDB, Nigeria’s Country Office, Lamin Barrow said the grant was to develop a robust pharmaceutical sector that will ensure increased local manufacturing of essential drugs and medicines that are of high quality, safe and accessible to the population in the West Africa region

“Guided by our Regional Integration Strategy Paper for West Africa 2020-2025, the Bank has ramped up its support to the ECOWAS region while being more responsive to the emerging priority and needs of the member countries. Currently, the Bank’s active portfolio in West Africa is comprises 350 projects for a total commitment Value of $15.5 billion, out of which Nigeria accounts for 32 per cent. These investments are mainly focused on building resilient infrastructure and supporting regional enterprise development to boost industrialization”, he stated.

Checking Imports
Barrow said the move will also address Africa’s reliance on imports, which is estimated around 70% of pharmaceutical products sourced from imports, largely from South East Asia.

“Local vaccine production capacities meet less than one per cent of the domestic demand. The Covid-19 crisis has further exposed the fragility of our national health systems and posed significant disruptions to health and pharmaceutical supply chains”

This underscores the urgency of accelerating efforts to ensure a minimum level of supply of health products. African governments are now looking to develop their pharmaceutical industries to ensure security of supply and enhance affordability in addition to easing the pressure on the balance of payments

In response to the call from the African union, the African Development Bank is taking a lead role in driving the implementation of the continental Vision and Action Plan for a new African Pharmaceutical order.

Local production
Last year President Adesina announced that the Bank would mobilize up to $3 billion to support the development of Africa’s health infrastructure defense system, including the pharmaceutical industry

As part of this support, the Bank, on January 25, 2022, approved the $3.56 million in this project whose objective is to develop a robust pharmaceutical sector that will ensure increased local manufacturing of essential drugs and medicines that are of high quality, safe and accessible to the population in the West Africa region. The ECOWAS Commission will contribute $600,000 to complement the Bank’s financing

He explained that the move will build a resilient healthcare systems and sustainable post-pandemic economic recovery in the region

The Bank’s support subscribes to the vision to develop local production capacities and increase the market share of African pharmaceutical production value to 45-55% by 2030.

Specifically, it 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 as well as development of an effective regional pharmaceutical regulatory ecosystem, among others

Furthermore, the project will advance the Bank’s efforts to support harmonization of the regulations and standards for pharmaceutical products across the continent. This will contribute to increased intra-African trade and boost regional integration under the African Continental Free Trade Area

Enhancing competition in the industry
The project will also enhance the competitiveness of the region’s pharmaceutical industry by promoting best practices in pharmaceutical product and supplies manufacturing as articulated in the 2019: Abidjan Declaration. Through the institutional support and capacity building activities contemplated, it will strengthen regional training institutions and laboratories to develop the skills required to support the industry’s growth in a gender-sensitive and environmentally friendly manner.

For the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean Claude Kassi Brou, “this long-standing cooperation has already focused on support for industrial development, particularly within the framework of the strategy of the Automotive Industry and the Pharmaceutical Industry which is the subject of the signing of this Agreement today.

“This Convention is of vital importance from a health point of view, since it will be used for the production of vaccines and other medicines for the benefit of our populations”.


The ECOWAS Commission and the West African Health Organization are committed to making good use of this grant in the interest of the population of the Community.


Nneka Ukachukwu

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