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Business

Healthcare investments in Africa rises by $1.3bn in 5 years

It is only a matter of time before we see the kind of success achieved in the fintech sector being replicated in healthcare across Africa.

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How Health Tech Startups Are Solving Nigeria's Health Problems

Healthcare in Africa faces a myriad of challenges from poor infrastructure to lack of funds but technology is transforming healthcare delivery in Africa.

Despite the monumental gains being recorded, Africa’s burden of disease is disproportionate to its population size. In addition to communicable diseases like malaria and tuberculosis, the continent is dealing with an increasing prevalence of non-communicable diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and cardio-respiratory disease.

The result is a double disease burden placed on a region where public resources are limited and health systems are already weak and overburdened. Additionally, Africa’s shifting demographics pose another significant health challenge.

READ: Twitter to establish its first African presence in Ghana

It is imperative that Africa’s rapidly expanding youthful population, which is predicted to be the largest workforce in the world by 2040, has access to good quality healthcare to capture the benefits of this demographic dividend.

Rather than deterring private investment in Africa, these challenges present numerous commercial opportunities for potential investors. The private sector is playing an increasingly important role in financing healthcare in Africa.

According to a report by AVCA, the healthcare sector in sub-Saharan Africa has shown considerable growth in the last twenty years.

Between 2015-2020, 97 private equity (PE) and venture capitalist (VC) investments worth US$1.3bn occurred in healthcare in Africa.

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In 2020, healthcare technology investments represented 45% of the total number of investments within Africa’s healthcare sector.

The top 5 countries by share of volume of PE & VC fund investments in healthcare in Africa, between 2015-2020 are Nigeria, Morocco, Egypt, South Africa, and Ghana. Deals in the healthcare sector represented 8% of the total deal volume in 2019 and 2020 respectively, showing the continued investor commitment to bridge the healthcare gap on the continent.

The share of the total reported value of healthcare deals in Africa in 2020 increased to 16% of the total reported deal value, from only 3% in 2019. Between 2015 and 2020, the total value of final closed PE & VC funds in Africa was US$18.1bn. Of this, 50% originated from funds that included healthcare as a targeted sector in their investment mandate.

Private sector healthcare providers currently deliver nearly 50% of all healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa and nearly 60% of healthcare financing on the continent comes from private sources.

Speaking to Ugo Iwuchukwu, Brands and communication manager at Helium Health on why healthcare investment is increasing in Africa, he said:

“The situation with the new investments into African healthcare is a melting pot of a couple of things. First, it was an inevitability. Healthcare is a business that affects everyone and in terms of technology development, it’s decades behind contemporary industries like finance or even telecommunications. Think about how you can do virtually any transaction online but you could barely get any healthcare activity done virtually. So, this meant that it had always been a place that could create value accretion to all the stakeholders.

Second, the pandemic unwittingly put a magnifying glass on the state of global healthcare and it showed what people like Helium have been saying which is that there is a lot of work to be done to build not just Nigeria but even the global healthcare industry. So that’s giving more momentum to what was already beginning to simmer before the pandemic.”

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Bottom line

Digital technology is featuring more prominently in Africa’s healthcare sector as more investors are coming on board and technology is increasingly being deployed to address various healthcare challenges across the continent.

Although investment in the healthtech sector is still in the nascent stage compared to other sectors like the fintech sector, the race has clearly begun and it is only a matter of time before we see the kind of success achieved in the fintech sector being replicated in healthcare across Africa.

Janet John is a graduate of Chemical Engineering from the University of Uyo. She specializes in technical writing where she creates easy to read documentation, articles to clearly and efficiently explain highly complex processes. When she is not writing, she works as a freelance front-end developer

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    Business

    President Buhari meets with heads of security agencies

    President Muhammadu Buhari is currently in a meeting with heads of security agencies at the State House, Abuja.

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    President Muhammadu Buhari is currently in a meeting with security agencies and others at the State House, Abuja.

    This was disclosed by the Federal Government via its Twitter handle on Tuesday.

    It tweeted, “Security Meeting ongoing, at the State House. President @MBuhari presiding, Vice President, SGF, NSA, Ministers, Service Chiefs, IGP, Intelligence Chiefs in attendance.”

    More to come soon…

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    Business

    How FG can implement blockchain technology for efficient service delivery

    Blockchain technology is an efficient and cheaper platform for governance as it curbs middlemen and bureaucratic channels, makes processes more effective and adequately reduces fraud.

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    KPMG, PwC, Blockchain technology expected to tackle Africa’s challenges across multiple industries

    A report on the Nigerian budget by BugIT last week revealed that Nigeria’s 2021 budget had 316 duplicated capital projects totalling N39.5 billion, a 14% increase to the security sector allocation with no audit done in 5 years and many others.

    Other discrepancies discovered in the report include ZERO audit records of the N10.02 trillion received by the security sector between 2015 and 2021, a total of 117 federal agencies received allocations for “Security Votes” worth N24.3 billion despite many of these agencies already having allocations for “Security Charges” to cover each agency’s security needs, etc. These figures show that the government is permitting multiple leakages in its budget despite falling crude oil revenues and rising debt to revenue ratio.

    The damning report was a catalyst for Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) to petition President Muhammadu Buhari to probe the reported N39.5 billion duplicated and mysterious projects inserted into the 2021 budget.

    The Election problem

    Nigeria also lacks transparency in her electoral process resulting in voter apathy, rigging and other forms of electoral fraud, post-election violence, and post-election litigations. The ugly situation is not lost on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which has called for better use of technology in the conduct of elections, stating that the introduction of technology would enhance the credibility of elections in Nigeria. The electoral umpire has also alluded to working with the National Assembly to introduce reforms to Nigeria’s Electoral Act.

    “There is a need to introduce further technology to enhance the credibility of the elections that we are going to conduct in 2023. That explains why INEC intends to introduce new technology in the revalidation of register, that we have been putting in place since 2010-2011. The way forward is to introduce technology and ensure the register is credible and 2023 elections reflect this credibility and that election are better,” INEC said.

    Can Blockchain offer this technology for transparent service delivery?

    According to euromoney.com, a blockchain is essentially a digital ledger of transactions that is duplicated and distributed across the entire network of computer systems on the blockchain. Each block in the chain contains a number of transactions, and every time a new transaction occurs on the blockchain, a record of that transaction is added to every participant’s ledger.

    The decentralised database managed by multiple participants makes blockchain technology a system that is difficult to change, hack, falsify or defraud.

    In 2018, Sierra Leone became the first country in West Africa to conduct an election with the aid of the Blockchain, recording votes at 70% of the polling to the blockchain, a first of its kind to prevent electoral fraud.

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    Sierra Leone wishes to create an environment of trust with the voters in a contentious election, especially looking at how the election will be publicly viewed post-election. By using blockchain as a means to immutably record ballots and results, the country hopes to create legitimacy around the election and reduce fall-out from opposition parties,” the developer, Agora said in a statement.

    “Blockchain is the only technology that has been created which can provide an end-to-end verifiable and fully-transparent voting solution for the future” they added.

    Perhaps, Blockchain is proof that it may indeed be possible to “ innovate to prosperity” using technology, especially in low trust societies like Nigeria bedevilled with poor public accounting and electoral processes.

    This position is supported in a report by Northwestern University, citing that Blockchain’s smart contracts can improve efficiency in emerging markets like Nigeria.

    “Blockchain technology has the potential to eliminate one of the most significant barriers to economic growth through private business transactions in developing countries—lack of trust,” the report said.

    “Developing countries often lack effective or transparent institutions and are frequently plagued with corruption that weakens substantially their level of security in economic transactions.

    First, because blockchain uses an open architecture, all transactions are publicly accessible, immutable, and verifiable by anyone. This helps to eliminate corruption and fraud from the transaction. Second, because all smart contract transactions are recorded along a blockchain and cannot be modified ex-post, a permanent and publicly accessible ledger is available to shed any doubt about payments or other transactions throughout the process. And third, because blockchain systems are automated, security in the enforcement mechanism is all but guaranteed. For instance, failure to deliver goods by a set time will automatically trigger a default clause that transmits payment of liquidated damages to the injured party without the intervention of a judge or arbitrator,” the report added.

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    Basically, the report suggests that if the Nigerian government pursues a policy on total efficiency in service delivery, blockchain could be the best alternative for the nation as it reduces corruption and fraud in multiple government sectors.

    Olumide Adesina, a financial market analyst and Yahoo Finance Contributor says implementing a blockchain-driven service delivery model would make governance cheaper and reduce corruption.

    “A blockchain is simply a digital ledger that records information on the network in such a way that it is almost impossible to forge, hack and manipulate despite being open source,” he said.

    “This is an efficient and cheaper platform for governance as it curbs middlemen and bureaucratic channels, makes processes more effective and adequately reduces fraud,” he added.

    Would the CBN’s crypto ban affect blockchain’s use in governance?

    “The CBN ban has little or no effect on the blockchain, as its statutory powers only excluded Nigerian financial institutions from relating to Crypto Exchanges and platforms,” Adesina said.

    Bottomline

    The report of over N39 billion in duplicate expenses shows that even in a period of revenue decline, the government is struggling with curbing corruption in various sectors. The implementation of technology-backed solutions will not only save the nation from resource pilfering and wastage, but it will also be vital in electing credible government officials to oversee proper, efficient service delivery and governance.

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