On Wednesday, 22 March 2022 in Abuja, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) signed a $3.56 million memorandum of understanding. These funds will go towards the implementation of the Project to Support the Development of the Pharmaceutical Industry in West Africa.
Following the approval by the Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group on 24 January 2022 of a $3.56 million financing agreement to ECOWAS for the development of the pharmaceutical industry, the donor and the recipient institution endorsed the MoU on Wednesday, 22 March. This is a partial offer given that the cost of the infrastructure is estimated at $3.77 million, with a contribution of $200,000 (cash) and $400,000 (in-kind) expected from the ECOWAS Commission. This pharmaceutical industry project is said to be in line with three of the five priorities of the AFDB: “Industrializing Africa”, “Integrating Africa” and “Improving the quality of life of people in Africa”. It will facilitate the regulation related to the application of a duty-free tariff on pharmaceutical raw materials, packaging and finished products within the framework of the ECOWAS Common External Tariff, a tool to facilitate intra-Community trade. It also aims to build an effective regional pharmaceutical regulatory ecosystem by providing technical assistance and capacity-building programmes to regional drug regulatory authorities. For the ECOWAS Commissioner for Industry and the Private Sector, Mamadou Traoré, “the local production of pharmaceutical and biological products has become compulsory and a regional priority as well as the provision of health care delivery services for which the support of the African Development Bank will help ECOWAS to achieve its development objectives”. Thanks to this project, the pharmaceutical industry in West Africa should be more competitive to meet the many challenges of the subregion. For good reason, “The Covid-19 crisis has further exposed the fragility of our national health systems and caused significant disruptions in the global health and pharmaceutical sector and supply chains. This underscores the urgency of accelerating efforts to ensure a minimum level of supply of health products,” said Lamin Barrow, Bank Managing Director for Nigeria. And being already aware of the situation in 2021, Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina, President of the AFDB Group announced the plan of mobilizing $3 billion to support the African pharmaceutical industry over the next ten years. Thus, “To develop the pharmaceutical industry, the African Development Bank will contribute to developing local production capacities in order to increase the market share of the value of African pharmaceutical production (local and regional) to 45-55% by 2030,” said Solomon Quaynor, AFDB Vice President in charge of Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialization.