AFRICA – African e-commerce marketplaces are venturing into the delivery of health care products as part of a strategy to broaden their value to customers.

These platforms are part of a broader crop of innovators at an interesting intersection of healthcare and logistics on the continent. Going by recent data, this sub-sector has grown over two years.

At least 61 companies are using tech for health distribution across sub-Saharan Africa, a growth of over 100% in the number of active players (28) captured in 2018. That’s according to a report by Salient Advisory, an Africa-focused healthcare consultancy.

These health logistics companies include e-commerce players like Jumia, Copia and Konga, and also core health startups like mPharma, Lifestores Pharmacy, Chekkit and Sproxil.

Salient’s report focuses on companies delivering over-the-counter products, hence it does not include LifeBank which specializes in blood and oxygen products.

Most of these companies are in Nigeria, Ghana and Uganda, with only 6 spotted in the francophone region.

31% of the companies surveyed were founded within the last two years and 62% operate in a single African country.

Salient categorizes the landscape of companies into three groups by the type of service they deliver: consumer-facing companies, producer-facing companies and product data companies.

The first group of companies exemplified by Lifestores Pharmacy, deliver over-the-counter and prescription drugs as well as virtual patient care to individuals. They serve healthcare businesses either by delivering to them, hosting an online marketplace, providing inventory management tools and/or offering financing.

The third group offers data related services like product analytics and drug authenticity verification. An example in this category is Chekkit, a verification technology startup that was recently accepted into Google for Startups accelerator program for 2021.

Traditional e-commerce platforms like Jumia, Copia and Konga are able to play in the consumer and provider-facing buckets. Because of their presence in multiple African countries, all three companies surpass the combined reach of other direct-to-consumer startups in the health product distribution space.  

According to Konga’s co-CEO Nick Imudia, the e-commerce company’s plan to deliver health products started shortly after they were acquired by the Zinox Group three years ago.

We started building warehouses and logistics assets to enable us to reach every local government area in the country,” Imudia says.

Konga is a marketplace where pharmaceutical companies can list health products like medicines. Konga delivers orders from those pharmacies to individual consumers.

The Global Healthcare Logistics Market without the COVID 19 impact was valued at USD 30.6 billion in 2021 and is projected to grow over a CAGR of 6% during the forecast period till 2029, according to quince, a market insight researcher.

Healthcare logistics are logistics in managing how pharmaceutical, medical, and surgical supplies, medical devices and facilities, and other items are acquired, stored, and transported to their destination.

Healthcare logistics is an integrated part of the healthcare system.