‘Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo’ echoes go continental
Africa Moyo in SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt
President Mnangagwa’s call on Zimbabweans to lead national development is now reverberating across Africa, with experts yesterday demanding that the continent starts producing its medical drugs to end dependence on other continents.
In his presentation during a side event on the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation at the African Development Bank (AfDB) 2023 annual meetings here yesterday, Professor Christian Happi said there was no need for Africa to depend on others when it has all the requisite resources.
He said the African continent has been hit by a number of diseases, and technocrats should use that “to provide solutions to the world”.
“We should move from being knowledge consumers to knowledge producers. We have the capacity to produce the required knowledge.
“Can we do that as a continent? Yes, we can do it, and transform the continent,” said Prof Happi, a Professor of Molecular Biology and Genomics in the Department of Biological Sciences and the Director of the African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases, both at Redeemer’s University.
He is known for leading the team of scientists that used genomic sequencing to identify a single point of infection from an animal reservoir to a human during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
Prof Happi said the view held by some Africans that anything foreign is the best should be discarded, as Africans can produce equally good, if not better products than those from other continents.
But he called on leaders to create a fertile ground for those with ideas to implement them.
Prof Happi said African immigration laws should be addressed as it takes an average of three weeks for one to get a visa to travel to an African country, while it takes less than a week to obtain a visa for Western countries.
In his address, AfDB president Dr Akinumwi Adesina said the outbreak of Covid-19 has highlighted the urgency for governments, particularly in Africa, to invest in domestic pharmaceutical innovation and production.
“We should move beyond the limitations of market failures and focus on rectifying systemic capability deficiencies,” he said.
“Second, investing in domestic pharmaceutical production and innovation will help increase employment, improve the trade balance, reduce healthcare costs, and ensure access to safe, quality, and affordable drugs. It will enhance Africa’s health security.
“Third, due to its unique disease burden, Africa needs to proactively build its capacity for future pandemics, enhancing production facilities and involvement in research and development.”
Dr Adesina added that Africa needs to establish itself as an equal player, both regionally and globally.
Egyptian Minister of International Cooperation, Rania Al-Mashat, said the health of citizens is important, adding that the launch of the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation by the AfDB was a welcome development.
She said they look forward to tuhe African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation’s pivotal role in supporting and strengthening the comprehensive technological environment for African companies working in the pharmaceutical industries, which requires a trustworthy and accessible technology infrastructure.