SEPT | What we’re reading on health tech in Africa

Because we track locally-driven innovations in health tech across the African continent, we are prototyping a monthly newsletter to share our most “salient” learnings in more real time. We welcome submissions, suggestions.

 

Local innovators making a splash in the pan-African & global scenes

Helium Health’s electronic health & patient record systems are now deployed in 400 facilities across 16 states in Nigeria. In the wake of COVID19, Helium is also offering facilities collateral-free loans between 500K-10M Naira. Can they serve as a model for digital health records in Africa?

Newly-formed partnership Bliss Group is striving to create the first pan-African e-commerce network for baby care products while building a community platform for parenting advice and referrals. The merger, which brings together Kenya-based MumsVillage & BabyBliss Nigeria, expects to leverage newly-acquired supply chain holdings to drive down prices and increase product selection in the two countries – with plans to expand further later in the year.

Market Force, a Kenyan startup focused on optimizing last mile delivery processes and efficiency in the FMCG value chain, was selected to participate in the Y Combinator 2020 summer cohort. We hope this signals increasing interest from global investors in African tech and delivery of essential goods!

In other news, mPharma was the only African health tech company named in CB insights 150 most Promising Digital Health Startups 2020 rankings for its work in the global pharma supply chain. Congrats!

 

Gendered dimensions of healthcare seeking  – and why female-led innovations are key

Mobile apps such as WHISPA Health could help combat poor awareness of reproductive rights among Nigerian women. Drawing from her personal experiences Morenike Fajeminism was inspired to develop a tech-based solution to this challenge. The app privately connects adolescents & young adults to doctors, electronic contraceptive assessments and at-home STI self-testing kits.

In the face of an apparent gender bias in the quality of healthcare provision, digital diagnostic tools and telemedicine innovations could also help women receive adequate care & attention from medical professionals. Habit tracking tools such as the Daily Counter and app-based diagnostics solutions like Sonocare have the potential to leverage consumer data to advocate for improved service delivery in Nigeria.

Female founders speak up! Joanna Bischel, founder of Kasha, speaks up about the importance of creating tech-driven private sector solutions for healthcare catering to women.

 

Government regulation: how will changes in tech impact health innovation?

Provisions imposed by lawmakers in several African countries this past month highlight the dynamic nature of regulation in tech. TL;DR: In the past, there has been concern that government regulations may harm the innovation ecosystem. Though positive changes are on the horizon in several countries, doubts remain. How regulatory changes will affect the health tech sector remains unclear.

recently-announced hike in licence renewal fees for logistics firms in Nigeria was suspended after public outcry. Amidst the increasing popularity of e-commerce for health product delivery, effective and low-cost logistics are critical. More broadly, firms fear these kinds of increases in regulatory involvement could shift the innovation ecosystem.

On another note, Nigeria and Kenya have released new company laws pertaining to SMEs & the ICT sector respectively. One highlight: foreign tech companies will need to have >30% Kenyan ownership to be licenced to operate in the country. Will this promote local innovation or choke resources by deterring foreign investors? Only time will tell.

Rwanda announced it is working on drafting a Startup Act to support local tech entrepreneurs. Following the lead of Senegal and Tunisia, the Innovations for Policy Foundation reports there are nearly 20 African countries exploring similar measures. We’re interested to see how these acts can help spur effective innovations to scale.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

  • Kariane St-DenisSalient Advisory

ABOUT SALIENT

New models to deliver health information, products, services and financing are desperately needed globally, especially for equity-seeking populations. As a healthcare consulting firm, we co-develop actionable insights and partnerships, supporting global changemakers to advance outcomes and equity.

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