OCT | 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.

 

Several collaborations between governments and health technologists emerged this month

Nigerian anti-counterfeiting startup Chekkit Technologies secured a partnership with the Afghani MoH to deploy its product verification solution in a pilot to track and authenticate the sales of 80,000 pharmaceutical products. The program will also generate consumer insights and drive consumer engagement through a rewards program.

Government authorities in Abuja are working with eHealth Africa to implement a text message-based system to inform patients of negative COVID-19 testing results across the capital.

In the face of program cuts to UHC pilot schemes in 4 Kenyan counties, M-TIBA healthcare mobile wallet service is partnering with the Nyeri county government to help residents without medical coverage access services through the National Hospital Insurance Fund.

 

Expansions & partnerships seek to strengthen supply chain solutions

E-commerce giant Konga recently announced the launch of Konga Bulk, which will enable partnering manufacturers, distributers, resellers and SMEs access to Konga’s warehousing and more. The new initiative could help partners unlock efficiencies in distribution and reach key customer segments.

USAID has set aside $15M to establish a research and training center for supply chain management in Ghana. Under the management of Arizona State University and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, the center will provide public and private actors access to global resources to strengthen the continent’s supply chain infrastructure, with a focus on food & medicines.

 

Foreign investors rally behind (some) tech innovators in Africa

Despite the uncertainties caused by the global pandemic, startup funding reports for Q1 and Q2 of 2020 point to favorable trends. Investments in both e-commerce and logistics across Africa are set to match or surpass last years’ figures. Partech estimates that health tech innovators across Africa have raised ~$97M in the first half of 2020.

Much of this support seems to come from foreign sources. For instance, the US DFC recently committed $6M to African e-commerce innovations – dedicating $1M to women’s health e-commerce platform Kasha. US-based impact investor Gray Matters Capital recently launched co-LABS, a gender-lens investment portfolio looking to fund early-stage, for-profit ventures benefiting women and girls at scale.

This is good, right? Well, for some. In general, our analyses indicate that external financing in health tech appears to be concentrated in a small number of large companies with ties to the Global North. In contrast, small-scale, local innovators often struggle to secure funding.

This matters, because startups with established investor relationships appear to be better equipped to navigate the COVID-19 crisis. Meanwhile, first-time fund-raisers have faced increased scrutiny and reluctance from potential funders, hampering their ability to survive these challenging times.

Could local investment help fill the gap? Local firms, such as Nigeria-based early-stage fund Ventures Capital, and the newly-formed angel investor group Addis Ababa Angels Network (the first of its kind in Ethiopia), are increasingly pledging to support local tech innovators with creatively-structured deals. Flying Doctors Nigeria Ltd. is also reportedly setting up a $1B fund invest in health care across Africa. We’re hopeful these developments – and others – help stimulate the growth and impact of health tech companies.

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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