Senior Business Reporter
Government and the United Arab Emirates-headquartered pharmaceutical manufacturer, IntraPharma have signed a joint venture agreement to establish a production plant and distribution base with an initial capital investment of US$100 million.
Last October, the Government signed in Dubai a Memorandum of Understanding with IntraPharma, one of the world’s leading pharmaceuticals manufacturer and distributor.
Speaking during the signing ceremony in Harare yesterday, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said:
“We are gathered here today for the signing ceremony to sign a heads of agreement between the Government of Zimbabwe represented by the Sovereign Wealth Fund of Zimbabwe with IntraPharma for the creation of a joint venture entity that will spearhead some of the work needed in the production of drugs or pharmaceuticals.
“The work that is needed in improving our logistics for drugs distribution locally but also developing the logistics hub for distribution of drugs in the region, so IntraPharma is a company that is based in the United Arab Emirates and it is here today represented by Dr Engineer Ibhrahim Ramel and his colleagues.”
The joint venture will be owned 50/50 between the Government and IntraPharma.
Responding to questions from the media, Prof Ncube said the joint venture agreement focuses on three areas, namely the production of various pharmaceutical products in Zimbabwe, distribution of pharmaceutical products in the country, and a logistics hub for distribution of pharmaceuticals within the SADC region.
“So there will be a production facility or investment in the pharmaceutical sector, secondly, it’s in the distribution of the pharmaceutical products within Zimbabwe, obviously that’s a partnership with Natpharm aspect of the SOEs (State-owned Enterprises) that fall under the Ministry of Health and Child Care.
“Then it’s the logistics hub for distribution of pharmaceutical products within the SADC region, we are desirous to turn Zimbabwe into a centre for distribution of pharmaceutical products through this partnership.
Speaking at the same occasion, Dr Eng Ramel said they were in the country to fulfil the obligation that the two countries agreed to co-operate.
“And it is our delight to be interested in executing one of the national agenda items for Zimbabwe.
“We hope that the people of Zimbabwe will have a tangible result of this collaboration,” he said.
In his response to the media, Dr Eng Ramel said the pharmaceutical sector requires a lot of expertise, and high-class machinery, adding that the planned investment should be successful in all terms.
“So, we are expecting an initial US$100 million investment, but I am sure these figures will be multiplied by X numbers depending on how we progress in satisfaction with different elements of the economy of the region; it’s not only one aspect,” he said.
On account of the prevailing pharmaceutical situation in the country, the Government last year launched the 2021-2025 Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Strategy in Zimbabwe.
At present, Zimbabwe imports 90 percent of its drugs and other pharmaceutical products, spending millions in foreign currency.
Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Child Care Dr Paul Chimedza IntraPharma was coming in at the opportune time when the country was experiencing significant stockouts in medication and other health consumables.
“We are honoured that we are into this arrangement which is not only going to alleviate the stock out in medicines but may eventually result in us being a net exporter of medications into the region.
“We hope to see the price of drugs drastically come down because we will be manufacturing our own drugs and like IntraPharma has indicated the pricing model will be the same pricing model that is seen in other countries in the UAE (in the Arab world),” he said.