NIGERIA – The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have approved a US$3.56 million grant financing to support development of the pharmaceutical industry in West Africa.

The grant will be used to boost the local vaccine production capacities which currently meets less than one per cent of the domestic demands.

It will be used to further accelerate collaborative efforts by development partners to ensure minimum level of supply of the health products when need arises.

Additionally, the project is expected to increase intra-African trade and boost regional integration under the African Continental Free Trade Area.

The project will also advance the bank’s efforts to support harmonization of the regulations and standards for pharmaceutical products across the continent.

The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly exposed the vulnerability of the national health systems in the African continent and has posed significant disruptions to health and pharmaceutical supply chains.

The partnership seeks to address the challenge of Africa being heavily reliant on imports with estimated 70 per cent of pharmaceutical products sourced from imports especially from South East Asia.

Moreover, African governments are now developing their pharmaceutical industries to ensure security of drug supply and enhance affordability to ease the pressure on the balance of payments.

The agreement was signed by the Nigeria Country Department of AfDB Director-General Mr. Lamin Barrow and Dr Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, the ECOWAS Commission President.

The signed agreement will strengthen regional training institutions and laboratories through institutional support and capacity building to help develop the skills required to support the pharmaceutical industry growth.

Director-General Mr. Lamin Barrow stated that the partnership was in line with the Banks’s Regional Integration Strategy Paper for West Africa 2020 to 2025.

He further said that the funding was part of the bank’s continued support to the ECOWAS region while being more responsive to the emerging priority needs of Member countries.

AfDB’s active portfolio in West Africa is currently comprised of 350 projects for a total commitment valued at US$15.5 billion with Nigeria accounting for 32 per cent,” disclosed Mr. Lamin Barrow.

He stressed that the investments are mainly focused on building resilient infrastructure and supporting regional enterprise development to boost industrialization.

The project will enhance the competitiveness of the region’s pharmaceutical industry by promoting best practices in pharmaceutical products and supplies manufacturing as articulated in 2019 Abidjan declaration,” Mr. Barrow explained.

The initiative will further bolster improvement of the health of the populations and the development of Industry and the Private Sector in the African region.

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