Kenya’s economy to grow by 4.5%-5.2% in 2024, World Bank says

Reuters News

A giraffe is seen by the city skyline prior to the start of the Magical Kenya Open presented by Absa at the Karen Golf Club on March 13, 2019 in Nairobi, Kenya. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

Kenya’s economy is likely to expand by 4.5%-5.2% in 2024 from an estimated 5% this year, the World Bank said on Wednesday.

African governments are collaborating with tech innovators to strengthen local health supply chains, new report reveals

Africa Business

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Research noted nearly 50 partnerships between health startups and African governments, with a focus on optimizing local health supply chains and improving health outcomes across the continent.

Healthcare consulting firm Salient Advisory has launched its latest annual market intelligence report highlighting a robust pan-African ecosystem of innovators improving the safety and efficiency of health supply chains across the continent. Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the report titled “Innovations in Digitizing Health Supply Chains in Africa” is the first pan-African landscape of health supply chain innovators on the continent. It tracks nearly 350 technology-enabled innovators digitizing supply chain processes across 27 African countries.

As a wave of supply chain innovations emerged amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the long-term viability and impact of their business models was unclear. While the pace of new entry has slowed drastically, findings show African governments working with health supply chain innovators on nearly 50 partnerships, leveraging their tech-enabled solutions to resolve long-term challenges around the availability, accessibility, and quality of health products in public health supply chains. Nearly half of the identified partnerships focus on enabling governments to digitize ordering and inventory management to improve efficiency and minimize wastage, highlighting governments’ strong interest in adopting digital order and inventory management solutions.

While most innovators working in partnership with governments are more mature, like Zipline and mPharma, several younger companies have also established public sector partnerships early on, including Nigeria’s Figorr and Zimbabwe’s Vaxiglobal. As Africa’s tech scene grows, governments’ interest in supporting innovations that deliver social impact – while creating jobs – appears to be developing. The growing emergence of these partnerships also bodes well for the development of innovation-friendly regulations by governments across the continent.

Disparities in funding trends remain apparent across the health supply chain innovation ecosystem. While innovators have raised $2.6 billion in funding since their founding, US and Europe-based e-commerce companies and medical drone delivery operators account for 77% of all funding raised; the remaining innovators have raised $584 million since their launch. While government interest in innovations in ordering and inventory management appears strong and presents a potential path to scale, startups in this category have raised only 9% of all funding since their founding.

In terms of the number of deals, Plug N Play Ventures and Launch Africa stand out as the most active sources of equity funding in this space, while the Investing in Innovation program, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Google’s Black Founders Fund have provided the highest number of grants. The 29 women-led companies active across the African continent (with a large concentration in Nigeria and Kenya) still suffer from poor access to equity financing, resulting in heavy reliance on debt and grants. Innovators headquartered outside the continent have also raised 83% of total funding ever reported, with large e-commerce giants and medical drone delivery operators capturing the bulk of external investment. Similarly, gender financing gaps are also evident as companies founded solely by women make up 8% of all startups but have received only 2% of all reported funds overall time. Lack of access to equity financing results in women-led companies relying more heavily on debt and grants.

As the ecosystem matures, innovators will provide supply chain solutions at a greater scale to governments, industry, global health agencies and more. The report advocates for the design and launch of trade financing and insurance solutions to enable mature innovators to distribute larger volumes of health products for institutional customers, an adjustment of purchasing processes by global health agencies to facilitate the participation of innovators in donor-funded supply chains, and the continued deployment of grants to foster inclusive and effective innovation ecosystems.

Speaking on the launch of the report, Remi Adeseun, Director at Salient Advisory, commented:

“The report offers the first comprehensive overview of tech-enabled health supply chain innovators emerging across Africa. We are surprised – and thrilled – to see so many government partnerships with innovators underway at both national and sub-national levels. We urge global health donors, agencies and industry partners to join with governments and investors in supporting high-potential innovators, helping foster more efficient and resilient healthcare supply chains while creating jobs.”

Hany Abdallah, Senior Program Officer, Supply Chain Systems at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, also commented:

“African health innovators have demonstrated an impressive ability to utilize technology for the optimization of supply chain solutions and the improvement of access to medicines. We are delighted to witness this progress, particularly as it coincides with an increase in government partnerships, which will advance positive health outcomes. This trend highlights the trust and collaboration between governments and health tech innovators, as well as a shared commitment to driving positive change and fostering innovation within the healthcare sector across the continent.”

Jules Sergine Agbeci, Director of Operations at Office Pharmaceutique National, Gabon, said:

“Leveraging tech-enabled solutions to digitize national supply chains across the country has had a transformative effect on the efficiency and product visibility across our local supply chains. As innovators develop more technology-driven models, there will be opportunities for more government agencies across the continent to test these solutions and offer clarity on their supply chain needs to enable public health systems to leapfrog long-running challenges.”

Nigeria equities market opens week positive as ASI adds 0.02%

Nigerian Tribune

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The Nigerian bourse rebounded after the previous session’s pullback as the benchmark Index gained 0.02 per cent to close at 72,404.91 basis points on Monday.

Basically renewed interest in United Bank for Africa, Lafarge Africa and Fidelity Bank pushed the broader index into positive territory, leaving their share prices higher by 0.41 per cent, 0.50 per cent and 2.65 per cent, respectively.

Accordingly, the Month-to-Date and Year-to-Date returns of the All Share Index (ASI) at the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX) settled at +1.5 per cent and +41.3 per cent, respectively.

Related PostsInvestors gain N851bn as local stock market opens week bullish

As a result of the bullish trading outing, equities investors earned N8.58 billion as the market capitalisation closed higher at N39.62 trillion on Monday.

However, as measured by market breadth, market sentiment was negative, as 32 tickers lost relative to 17 gainers. On the performance board, ABC Transport and eTranzact topped the losers’ list having dipped by 9.9 per cent and 9.4 per cent, while Infinity Trust Mortgage Bank and John Holt recorded the most significant gains of the day after appreciating in share prices by 9.9 per cent, respectively.

Performance across sub-sector gauges tracked was mildly bullish, as three of the five indices tracked closed in the green zone: the NGX Banking, NGX Oil/Gas and NGX Industrial Goods indexes rose by 0.07 per cent, 0.09 per cent, and 0.03 per cent, respectively. On the flip side, the NGX Insurance and NGX Consumer Goods indexes nosedived by 1.30 per cent and 0.09 per cent, respectively.

Meanwhile, market activity was varied, with total deals and volume increasing by 12.12 per cent, and 5.57 per cent to 6,745 deals and 324.25 million units, respectively while the total traded value for the day declined by 33.03 per cent to N4.40 billion.

At the conclusion of the trading session, Mutual Beneficiary Microfinance Bank emerged as the most actively traded stock in terms of volume with 42.08 million shares worth N20.36 million changing hands in 47 deals, while United Bank for Africa was the most traded in terms of value, amounting to N689.91 million.

Africa’s $50bln Private Higher Education sector set for accelerated growth

Africa Business

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The world is hurtling headlong into a digital future, and one crucial resource is in short supply: tech talent. Projections paint a stark picture. By 2030, the global tech talent shortage could soar to 85 million, translating to $8.5 trillion in potential lost annual revenue, and there’s no viable solution at scale to fill this looming deficit.

Yet, amidst this intensifying scramble for tech talent, a paradox unfolds. Africa, a continent brimming with potential, stands as a vast, untapped, and overlooked goldmine of tech talent that will be home to over 200 million digital natives by 2030. While the reasons for Africa’s underrepresentation in global tech are complex and multifaceted, innovative solutions are emerging, countless initiatives are underway, and the potential for further progress is enormous.

Navigating critical challenges in Africa’s higher education

Quality of education

African universities face challenges in delivering high-quality education, impeding the development of tech talent. Outdated curricula often fall short of meeting the dynamic demands of the tech industry, leaving graduates with skills misaligned with practical job requirements and the latest technologies. In addition, inadequate infrastructure and resources hinder hands-on training, limiting students’ ability to acquire necessary expertise.

Access to education

Ensuring broader access to higher education is imperative. Doing so involves tackling challenges related to affordability, enhancing infrastructure, and facilitating access to online education, which has gained heightened significance in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite notable strides in extending education across all age groups and internet access and smartphone penetration exceeding 80% in most developed African countries, many individuals struggle to access education. Over 20% of primary-age children and nearly 60% of youth aged 15 to 17 remain excluded from education, whether in the digital realm or the physical world.

Affordability is a primary barrier. Soaring tuition costs, coupled with constrained financial resources, often prevent talented individuals from pursuing advanced studies. This burden disproportionately affects students from low-income households, who struggle to afford basic tuition fees, let alone additional expenses like accommodation, textbooks, and transportation. The scarcity of financial aid and scholarships exacerbates the problem, leaving many deserving individuals without the means to pursue their educational goals.

Inadequate infrastructure, particularly in rural areas, poses another significant obstacle to educational access. Shortages of classrooms and libraries hinder the learning process, limiting opportunities for higher education. Furthermore, insufficient technology resources, such as computers, internet connectivity, and educational software, contribute to a widening digital divide that intensifies educational disparities and prevents individuals from meeting the demands of the 21st-century tech workforce.

Economic, political stability, and industry engagement

A robust and stable economic and political environment is the cornerstone for fostering a thriving tech talent ecosystem. It provides a fertile ground for businesses to invest in R&D, creating opportunities for tech professionals to learn, innovate, and refine their skills. This fuels technological advancements, propelling the sector forward and attracting further investment.

Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) like the World Bank, IFC, BII, Unicaf, DEG, SwedFund, Norfund, IDC, and OPIC, in collaboration with governments, universities, and businesses, have a vital role to play in fostering a more prosperous business environment, which directly and indirectly benefits the education sector. These organisations can identify skills gaps, develop training programs, and catalyse new partnerships to generate employment opportunities for graduates.

Governments and DFIs have already made notable achievements by implementing sound policies. Seychelles now ranks among the top 50 education systems globally, surpassing countries like Ukraine, Hungary, Russia, and the United Arab Emirates. The country has achieved an impressive 99% literacy rate among its 15-24-year-old population by implementing free, mandatory education and partnering with DFIs to help fund infrastructure expansions, enhance teacher training, and develop innovative programs.

Tunisia is another success story. Despite grappling with political and economic instability, the country has positioned itself as an educational leader in Africa, boasting the second-best education system on the continent. This achievement can be attributed to the Tunisian government’s allocation of 12-20% of GDP to education.

These examples, drawn from two small countries with a combined population exceeding 12 million, provide compelling evidence of the transformative potential inherent in effective policymaking and collaboration. Implementing similar policies in larger countries like Nigeria, Egypt, or South Africa would amplify the impact, potentially addressing a significant portion of the global shortage of skilled tech workers.

The time to make a strategic bet on African edtech

Africa is home to the world’s largest untapped pool of potential talents capable of addressing the growing global shortage of tech workers. Given the rapidly evolving nature of technology and the continent’s complex operating landscape, realising this potential will require a concerted effort from governments, DFIs, and the private sector.

Despite its considerable size, the market for specialised tech higher education is primarily controlled by entities in developed countries, creating an artificial barrier for tech talent in developing nations. However, forward-thinking companies are beginning to break through these barriers, garnering support from reputable private equity investors.

As global markets rebound, we expect Africa’s $50bn private higher education sector to accelerate. Industry leaders are poised to emerge, capitalising on the continent’s affordable supply of teachers and real estate and advancing AI-driven tools to speed up content generation and performance assessments. These factors will create a virtuous cycle of growth whereby lower costs fuel innovation, which attracts more students and investors, leading to further expansion and cost reduction. This will give rise to “high-risk, high-reward” opportunities that offer above-market returns in an environment constrained by demographic challenges in developed countries.

Rwanda says GDP growth expected to rise in 2024, still below 2022 figure

Reuters News

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Rwanda’s economy is expected to grow 6.6% in 2024, up from this year’s figure of 6.2%, the finance minister and central bank governor told the International Monetary Fund in a letter.

In February, Finance Minister Uzziel Ndagijimana had forecast economic growth of about 7.5% for the East African country in 2024 and 2025. The economy grew 8.2% in 2022.

“We foresee a temporary softening of economic growth, driven by needed tighter fiscal and monetary policies,” Ndagijimana and Central Bank Governor John Rwangombwa said in the Nov. 29 letter, made public late on Monday.

“On the demand side, private consumption and investment are expected to be the main growth drivers in the medium term as fiscal consolidation ensues.”

In November, Rwanda’s central bank held its key lending rate at 7.5%, saying it saw inflation falling towards its target range of 2% to 8% by year-end.

External factors could cloud the outlook for growth, however, Ndagijimana and Rwangombwa said.

“A further deepening of geopolitical fragmentation, another spike in global energy, food, and fertiliser prices, or a steeper decline in trading partners growth would weigh on the outlook,” they said. 

Nigeria inflation at 28.20% y/y in November – statistics office

Reuters News

A customer counts money inside a textile shop in Idumota Market, in Nigeria’s commercial capital of Lagos, Nigeria February 11, 2019. REUTERS/Nyancho NwaNri – RC1A016FA600

Nigeria’s annual inflation rose to 28.20% in November from 27.33% in October, its bureau of statistics said on Friday.

Consumer credit market in SA sees modest improvements in Q3 2023

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The statistics of Eighty20’s Q3 2023 Credit Stress Report have been released.
It is early days, but the economic and credit indicators from quarter three highlighted a shift in outlook for the first time in over a year.

Here are the top five indicators:

– Inflation eased further to 5.0% from 6.2% in the previous quarter.
– The unemployment rate dropped below 32% (31.9%), with the number of employed persons up by nearly 400,000.
– Consumer confidence and the leading indicator of the economy has moved upward.
– In the credit space, the percentage of loans in arrears has come down to 37.5%.

The rate of new defaults is coming down

The rate of new defaults (RND) (the proportion of outstanding loan balances that went into default during the quarter across all loan products), which has been steadily increasing since 2022 Q1, trended down this quarter with the exception of vehicle asset finance (VAF).

This is a welcome reprieve from the double-digit year-on-year growth in the RND witnessed over the last three quarters. The RND is at 2.51%, up 25% from 2.01% a year ago. Although the annual change in the rate of new defaults (CRND) remains high, it is down 1.3% on last quarter.

The CRND is an early warning sign for the state of credit in the country. All loan products except VAF saw a drop in the rate of new defaults QoQ, with new retail defaults down nearly 6%.

From an Eighty20 National Segmentation (ENS) perspective, it was only the Middle Class Workers who still experienced an increase in overall RND from last quarter, but only by 0.2%.

Unpacking movements in data is complex and there are a few possible explanations – not all of them are necessarily good:

– Hypothesis 1: Things are getting better – people are managing their finances, cutting back on spending and making payments on debt.
– Hypothesis 2: Things literally couldn’t get any worse – anyone who was going to default has already gone into default.
– Hypothesis 3: Credit providers have become significantly more risk averse in their lending and are therefore giving loans to people less likely to default.

The reality is probably a combination of all three factors.

“The hypothesis that people have become more responsible about their debt is reflected in the credit-card numbers. While balances are still growing across all segments albeit at a slower rate, new defaults are down QoQ by 2.1%.

“The four wealthier ENS segments have been relying on their credit cards to make it to the end of the month. As a result, overall credit balances are up more than 30% since Covid – by comparison, overall loan balances are up 20%, with retail- and unsecured loans up barely one percent,” says Andrew Fulton, director at Eighty20.

Year on year, total credit-card debt is up 9.5% but this is significantly lower than the double-digit growth experienced over the past two years – peaking at almost 15% in 2022 Q2. This drop in the rate of growth was seen across all ENS segments this quarter, with the Middle Class at 6.5% YoY growth and the Mass Credit Market at nearly 12% YoY growth.

Deeper dive into credit dynamics

Despite this slowing growth, the average credit-card loan balances for these segments are still twice their average monthly income. The average instalment to income ratio is the percentage of a person’s income that goes towards payments on all their loan products.

This ratio has continued to rise, but, as with credit-card debt, not as rapidly this quarter. However, we do still see the Middle Class with nearly three quarters of their income going to instalments, Heavy Hitters at 60% and the Mass Credit Market approaching 40%.

The small improvement in the RND and slowing growth in credit balances may also support the hypothesis that we have reached the bottom, with most credit-stressed South Africans already in default.

Furthermore, credit balances for Heavy Hitters and Comfortable Retirees have seen reasonable growth, while the Mass Market and Middle Class Workers have seen no growth in the value or volume of total loans over the past year.

– Of the R166bn growth in credit balances over the past year, 95% came from just two segments, the Heavy Hitters and Comfortable Retirees, with nearly two-thirds of the value coming from home-loan balances.

– Home-loan balances (up 9.1% on last year) are unlike other loan products in that nearly 99% of home-loan balances are held by only three segments: the Heavy Hitters (75%), Middle Class Workers (17%) and Comfortable Retirees (7%).

– The Heavy Hitter segment accounted for R90bn (10.8%) YoY growth in home-loan balances while Middle Class Workers’ balances remained flat, bringing the overall increase to R102.7bn.

– Nearly 750,000 people have entered the credit market this quarter for the first time, which is a return to pre-Covid levels. These individuals were responsible for nearly R8bn of the R29bn in new loans’ value this quarter.

Credit providers tightening their belts

In August, there was quite a lot of press regarding a slowdown in bank lending. It reflected that bank-lending growth decelerated in June to its most sluggish rate in the past year, reflecting financial institutions’ apprehension regarding stagnant economic growth and rising consumer debt.

This might account for the lack of credit growth we have been seeing in the lower-income segments. In their most recent trading updates, all the major banks have been speaking to elevated levels of credit impairments related to consumer banking. Banks pulling back on lending would also concentrate new debt in less riskier segments, resulting in the drop in QoQ new defaults.

“Regardless of the cause, for the first time in many months we have seen credit- and economic indicators move in a different direction. Given the year we’ve had, some joy towards the end is welcome,” concludes Fulton.

South African corporate social investment grows in 2023

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South African companies spent an estimated R11.8bn on corporate social investment (CSI) in the 2023 financial year, according to corporate responsibility consultancy Trialogue’s latest research findings.

The spend reflects an 8% nominal and 1% real increase from R10.9bn in 2022, on the back of post-Covid recovery, low economic growth and a challenging operating environment.

The findings, published in the latest annual edition of the Trialogue Business in Society Handbook, reflect a continued recovery in CSI expenditure, with more than half of surveyed companies (59%) reporting an increase in CSI spend, compared to 36% in 2021. About 60% of companies determined their CSI budget as a percentage of net profit after tax (NPAT), supporting the primary reason for increases and decreases in CSI as changes in corporate profits.

“South African companies, primarily driven by a moral imperative to influence positive social change, are increasingly positioning themselves to achieve systemic impact. Their CSI efforts are becoming more collaborative, and resources are being applied to research, networking and thought leadership in their development fields of interest. This is securing their voice on critical social issues and contributing to addressing the country’s social development challenges in the face of government budget cuts,” says Trialogue director Cathy Duff.

Education remains a priority CSI focus

Development sector priorities were similar to previous years, with three sectors – education, social and community development, and food security and agriculture – capturing the bulk of CSI expenditure.

Education remains the most popular cause for local companies. Although 2023 figures showed a decline in company support for education – down from 98% of companies in 2022 to 78% this year – the average spend increased from 44% of CSI in 2022 to 48% in 2023. Almost three-quarters of companies (74%) support social and community development, unchanged from last year, spending an average of 13% of CSI in this area. Food security and agriculture, which saw significant increases in support during the pandemic, was supported by 60% of companies in 2023 and received an average of 9% of CSI expenditure.

In contrast to US trends, where health and social services receive 25% of CSI spend on average, South African companies allocate an average of only 6% to health. Even fewer companies supported the sector this year, dropping from 43% in 2022 to 38% this year.

More than a third of South African companies (37%) claim to support environmental causes through their CSI, but this sector received just 3% of CSI spend on average. More companies supported the sports development, social justice and advocacy, and safety and security sectors in 2023, though the average CSI spend for each remains below 5%.

NPOs receive the bulk of CSI funding

Non-profit organisations (NPOs) remained the primary recipient of South African CSI, with 84%
of companies directing an average of 63% of their spend to NPOs in 2023. Surprisingly, the proportion of companies directing CSI funding to NPOs fell below 90%, even as the average contribution increased.

After NPOs, schools, universities, hospitals and other government institutions were the second most common funding channel, with 57% of corporates providing an average of 19% of expenditure towards them. Support of social enterprises increased from 17% of companies in 2022 to 28% in 2023, with social enterprises receiving an average of 5% of CSI expenditure.

Most companies were reluctant to engage in more progressive types of funding, with more than 69% indicating they would not provide funding for reserves, unrestricted funding or loans. However, 60% of NPOs reported receiving unrestricted funding from companies, and 39% received funding for reserves.

Fifty-three percent of companies reported non-cash giving in the form of products or services or volunteering time, while 83% of NPOs received non-cash donations.

Alignment of CSI with SDGs

Companies and NPOs are more likely to integrate the sustainable development goals (SDGs) into their strategies than the goals of the South African National Development Plan (NDP), with 63% of companies reporting integration of the SDGs, compared to 49% for the NDP goals.

Companies aligned with 5.6 SDGs on average. CSI programmes aligned most closely to SDG 4 (quality education), with 84% of companies reporting alignment. Sixty-three percent of companies aligned with SDG 2 (zero hunger), up from 43% in 2020. Corporate support for SDG 3 (good health and wellbeing), SDG 9 (industry) and SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy) decreased between 2020 and 2023.

NPOs were aligned with fewer SDGs, aligning with 3.9 on average. Like companies, most NPOs (71%) were closely aligned with SDG 4 (quality education), but 49% were then aligned with SDG 3 (good health and well-being) and 36% with SDG 1 (no poverty).

CSI operations and tech uptake

Most companies (71%) continue to manage at least some of their CSI internally, though 56% have a separate legal entity for this purpose. CSI most commonly reports to corporate affairs, with the median number of full-time CSI employees at three.

The technological revolution of the past year has witnessed limited uptake in South Africa’s CSI space. Only 35% of companies and 15% of NPOs have invested in AI for core operations, and only 10% of companies have invested in AI for CSI work.

Vaccine production in Africa key to pandemic-proofing the Continent

Africa Business

Image used for illustrative purpose. Coronavirus Covid-19 Vaccine glass bottle. Coronavirus 2019-nCoV concept. Illustrative vial of coronavirus vaccine.

The unprecedented speed of development of the Covid-19 vaccines can be attributed to multiple factors including record levels of international collaboration and swift action on the part of many governments and regulatory bodies to provide a conducive framework.

As every nation across the globe faced impending economic doom, massive cross-sector funding materialised, allowing large-scale phased trials to be performed in parallel (multiple phases run simultaneously).

The accumulation of knowledge from decades of study on related viruses, including research which started after the SARS outbreaks of 2002 -2004, and the advent of mRNA-based vaccine technology further assisted in ensuring a swift response to halting the spread of the deadly virus.

The potential for factors that enabled the Covid-19 vaccines’ swift development to expedite other vaccine efforts on the continent as well as the safety, efficacy, and uptake of the currently available COVID-19 vaccines in Africa will be key themes at this year’s Africa Health Conference, where participants like Epidemiologist and Cochrane SA Director, Professor Charles Shey Wiysonge, and Vaccine Specialist, Dr Geofrey Makenga, will address these important topics.

Among the permanent changes expected to be ushered in by the current pandemic, is the widespread uptake of the mRNA-based vaccines which have revolutionised vaccinology in recent times.

Unlike biotechnically complex protein-based vaccines, mRNA-based products can be nimbly manufactured for multiple diseases within the same facility, significantly decreasing the capex requirements for each new project. Similarly, the adenoviral vector technologies used in the J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines are revolutionising the vaccines industry.

While manufacturing capacity on the African continent is lagging, experts are quick to highlight the importance of achieving self-reliance by building local vaccine-manufacture capacity.

“Aspen’s Private-Public Partnership with the SA Department of Health to manufacture Johnson & Johnson vaccines from their flagship facility in Gqeberha, for example, is a hugely promising initiative”, says Prof Wiysonge.

It is however worth noting that, under the current agreement with J&J, the Aspen facility is doing ‘fill and finish’ (packaging and preparing the vaccines for release), on medicines largely produced outside of Africa.

Dr Makenga adds that as a continent we cannot relax until the vaccines are fully produced on African soil and urges Aspen and their collaborators to speed up the process for technology transfer and commence establishment of local facilities where active ingredients can be formulated and produced.

“A successful technology transfer will also secure capabilities for production of other vaccines post pandemic,” he says.

A future pandemic-proofed vaccine paradigm in Africa revolves around more than just financing. Budgetary backing is a must, and private-public partnerships will continue to be essential, but even greater potential lies in harnessing the synergy of government health departments, big pharmaceutical R&D, and medical research institutions.

Another promising example is BioVac in Cape Town. The result of a partnership between government and a pharmaceutical company, the institute is dedicated to bolstering local vaccine manufacturing capacity.

The African Union COVID-19 vaccination strategy aims to vaccinate a minimum of 60% of Africa’s population based on a whole-of-Africa approach. This is being facilitated by initiatives like the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT), a centralised purchasing agent.

Makenga says that with such structures in place, international finance facilities, in conjunction with civil society bodies like Covax (a collaboration led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and the World Health Organization) stand to make great strides in ensuring vaccine availability.

“With assistance from non-for-profit international organizations, funding for investment could be secured for the development of other vaccines too, but only with strong political will from African countries,” he says.

Figures released by the African CDC, reveal low vaccination rates in most countries, with some countries having not yet received any vaccines at all. Furthermore, in many places the vaccines that have been acquired have been underused due to difficulties in delivery to local dispensing facilities, as well as storage challenges, and low ratios of HCWs.

According to Professor Charles Shey Wiysonge, the overall uptake of the vaccines on the continent has varied greatly from country to country and during different times throughout the pandemic.

“Seychelles for example has now achieved a vaccination coverage of close to 70%,” he remarks.

He observes that vaccine hesitancy has also been a challenge in some African countries and believes that the solution is to empower people with knowledge and education around the science of what vaccines are, and how they actually work.

Both experts agree that the technological advances in vaccine manufacture for Covid-19 bode well for adaptation for other diseases vexing the continent.

“I am optimistic that the Covid-19 pandemic will usher in a new era for Africa in which innovations in therapeutics and diagnostics is the norm,” concludes Wiysonge.