Pharmaceutical manufacturing is a nascent sector in Ethiopia with an annual 15% growth rate; import-dependent with an opportunity to invest and manufacture; in the second-largest populated country in Africa.
- Since the development of the first Growth and Transformation Plan, the Federal Government prioritized the development of the pharmaceutical sector by tailoring enabling environment to enhance domestic manufacturing and established dedicate government organs for effective policy implementation; Ethiopia is one of the first African countries to develop a National Plan of Action for Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Development (read here).
- With a goal to become a pharmaceutical manufacturing hub by 2025, the government consciously established development institutes and supporting agencies, mandated to upgrade manufacturers’ capability, ensure and avail technical support, and enhance industrial learning.
- The pharmaceutical sector in Ethiopia is heavily import-dependent, hosting few domestic producers supplying less than 10% to a half a billion-dollar market, producing limited therapeutic drugs, medical supplies/instruments and medical apparatus, and veterinary medicines.
- The country’s strong economic growth, improvements in the delivery of health care services, the introduction of social health insurance coverage across the country, and increasing public health awareness and disposable income, diagnosis, and treatment are indicators for a surge in pharmaceutical products consumption in Ethiopia.
- 12 Universities provide pharmacy degree programs focusing on therapeutic drugs and industrial development; specialized training on industrial pharmacy, regulatory and/or research and development are given in the four universities identified as Center of Excellence for the pharma industrial development, these Universities are: Addis Ababa University, Mekelle University, Jimma University, and Adama Science and Technology University.
Competitive and Comparative Advantages
- The sector is given due emphasis on the country’s industrial policy and strategy as one of the seven priority sub-sectors for industrialization and manufacturing, whereby a dedicated industrial park is established in 270 hectares of land located within in 10-minute drive from Bole International Airport.
- Manufacturers can benefit from the country’s low cost of pharmaceutical labor: from ~ 60 USD/month to ~ 3,000 USD/month, the lowest cost of a utility in the world with ~ 3 US cent/kWh with several support measures for hiring expatriate employees.
- The sector follows a centralized procurement system that is carried out by the Ethiopian Pharmaceutical Supply Agency (EPSA), the single procurer of pharmaceutical products especially human medicine, that gives out preference market access to local pharmaceutical companies and offer advanced payment of up to 30% of the value of orders, with 25% price preference. (In some cases, technical assistance and consultancy support are also given to help companies comply with international drug manufacturing standards)
- Preferential market access for domestic pharmaceutical manufactures is augmented by bilateral and multilateral trade agreements including COMESA, IGAD, CFTA, and others in which harmonization of regulatory and procurement streamlined for export.
- Fiscal and non-fiscal incentives are available for manufactures including customs, duties, and income tax exemptions, guaranteed repatriation of funds, bonded export facilities, and One-Stop-Shop Service under the Ethiopian Investment Commission for pre-establishment licensing, registration and post-establishment after-care services.
Key Sector/Commodity Opportunity’s and incentive
- Tailored fiscal incentives to manufacturers including exemption from income tax up to 14 for Active pharmaceutical ingredient manufactures, 8 – 10 years for enterprises engaged in manufacturing of final drugs/ formulation, and up to 6 years for enterprises engaged in pharmaceutical packaging.
- Exemption from duties and other taxes on imports of machinery, equipment, construction materials, spare parts, raw materials, vehicles, loss carryforward, and full export duty exemption for manufactures
- Similar to other sectors, manufactures of pharmaceutical products are allowed duty-free import of capital goods and construction materials to facilitate in the establishment of a plant that adheres to the national General Manufacturing Practices guidelines, and for local manufacturing.
- Government is working towards setting an import tariff on non -Ethiopian Pharmaceutical Supply Agency imports to unify the advantages provided to local manufacturers in serving the domestic market; at the same time, applying the tariff only to non-EPSA imports ensures that EPSA can continue benefiting from the lower prices offered by domestic manufacturers.