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Salient Advisory Report Highlights African Health Sector Digitization and Gender Disparities

In a groundbreaking revelation, the latest market intelligence report by Salient Advisory, titled “Innovations in Digitizing Health Supply Chains in Africa,” sheds light on the emerging landscape of tech-enabled innovators striving to reshape health supply chains across the continent. 

The report, the fifth of its kind, provides a comprehensive overview of key findings and opportunities for stakeholders in this transformative sector.

Key Findings: A Pan-African Tech Revolution

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The report reveals that a staggering 350 innovators are actively digitizing health supply chain processes across Africa. 

These trailblazers are headquartered in 27 African countries, with concentrated activity observed in tech hubs such as Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, and Egypt.

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“Remarkably, 12% of healthcare supply chain innovators are based in francophone African countries, while 10% operate outside the continent, spanning Europe, the US, and Asia.”

These innovators are tackling critical challenges by operating across five major supply chain process categories, with 25% working in more than one area. 

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The Order and Inventory Management category, housing over 100 innovators, primarily serves providers and governments. Surprisingly, despite its prevalence, this category has only secured 9% of the total funding for supply chain innovations.

In the Direct Distribution to Consumers category, nearly 200 innovators operate, with a majority headquartered in Africa. However, e-commerce giants dominate funding in this space, leaving 193 online pharmacy companies with limited resources and reach.

Challenges and Opportunities

While innovators in the Transport, Warehousing, and Reverse Logistics category have raised 28% of total funding, the sector faces concentration challenges. 

Non-African medical drone delivery operators have secured 98% of the funding, with governments in 12 African countries leading partnerships. The Product Protection and Visibility category, serving manufacturers and governments, has fewer than 10 identified companies, but new entrants are gaining momentum with national and international expansions.

The report emphasizes the nascent stage of healthcare supply chain Data Analytics, with fewer than 10 innovators, mostly headquartered on the continent, having raised limited funds. Although 57% of tracked innovators were founded in the last five years, there was an 88% decline in new entrants from 2021 to 2022. 

“However, nearly 50 companies across the continent are operating at growth and mature stages, signalling readiness for larger-scale partnerships and impact.”

Gender Disparities and Funding Challenges

The report highlights gender disparities, with only 8% of companies founded solely by women. 

Nigeria and South Africa stand out as hubs for women founders, hosting 76% of companies solely founded by women. 

However, activity by women founders is minimal in Northern Africa, with only one solely women-founded company identified.

Health supply chain innovators across the continent have raised a substantial $2.6 billion in external funding since their founding, with 93% in the form of equity investment. 

Alarmingly, e-commerce giants and medical drone delivery operators account for 77% of all funding raised, leaving health supply chain innovators in other categories with only $584 million overall. 

“Companies founded solely by women have received a mere 2% of all funding over time.”

Recommendations for Global Health Actors

In response to these findings, the report puts forth several recommendations for global health actors. 

It emphasizes the need for de-risking partnerships through innovative trade financing solutions, enabling innovators to fulfil large orders and serve major clients. 

Additionally, innovation support programs are deemed necessary for both innovators and public purchasers to bridge crucial gaps in understanding and working with each other.

The report suggests that global health agencies and donors can actively foster local innovation by investing in measuring the impact of ongoing government-led partnerships, adjusting purchasing processes to engage with promising innovators, and leveraging grants to create more equitable innovation ecosystems.

In conclusion, the report highlights the vibrant pan-African ecosystem of tech-enabled innovators poised to revolutionize health supply chains, urging stakeholders to strategically accelerate the scale and impact of these transformative solutions while promoting gender equity and inclusive innovation.

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Diana Mutheu
Diana Mutheu
Diana Mutheu is a Tech enthusiast, happy to delve deeper into the African tech space covering Social Media, AI, Startups, Telcos, Cryptocurrency, Big Data, Women in Tech and all matters Tech.

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