Pharmaceuticals remain one of the main Indian exports to Africa, making up around 11.1% of total exported items. They are also behind the great successes of many private Indian companies that have ventured into Africa. Indian pharmaceutical companies are the largest providers of generic medicine in the world, and African markets are a natural fit for these companies, which provide drugs that are often very price competitive. Generic anti-retroviral (ARV) and anti-malarial drugs have helped to make it viable for public health departments to cope with those diseases.
India's domestic pharmaceutical industry has turned itself around over the past three decades, expanding from being practically nonexistent into being the third-largest industry globally by volume. Today, the Indian pharmaceutical industry represents a market of around $20bn, with exports accounting for around $9bn, and is expected to increase to $55bn by 2020 from its $12.6bn level of 2009, according to the McKinsey report India Pharma 2020: Propelling access and acceptance realising true potential.
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) also predicts that India is expected to join the league of top tend global pharmaceutical markets in terms of sales by 2020, with a total value reaching $5obn, a number only slightly less ambitious than McKinsey's.
India's government is keen to promote this sector. At an India-Africa conference held in Addis Ababa in May last year, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced that India will create a $700111 line of credit to help in training and building new institutions across Africa. The continent accounts for around 16% of the total of India's pharmaceutical exports.
India's largest pharmaceutical company, Ranbaxy Laboratories, was the first pharmaceutical company to set up base on the continent in 1977. Since then other big Indian players have followed suit and certain important drugs are nearly entirely supplied by Indian multinationals. This is the case with Cipla, India's second-biggest pharmaceutical company, which is now the largest supplier of anti-malarial drugs into Africa.
Cipla created goodwill when, in 2001, it announced that it would supply AIDS drugs to Africa at a considerable discount, slashing the per-patient price from more than $10,000 a year to less than $400. It is estimated that there are around 22.5m HIV-positive people in sub-Saharan Africa, indicating the desperate need for increased efforts to provide...