Doctor-Turned-Entrepreneur Bullish About Ethiopia’s Healthcare Sector
Monday, March 30, 2015
As Africa’s second most populous country, Ethiopia’s healthcare industry holds significant potential. According to Dr Mohammed Nuri (42), founder and CEO of local pharmaceutical company Medtech Ethiopia, the industry commands more than 18bn Ethiopian birr (about US$881m) in annual sales. In recent years imports from abroad have risen, while foreign investors have entered partnerships with local players.
Medtech was established in 1998 as an importer and distributor of various medical supplies and equipment. Today it distributes products for 26 global companies, particularly from India and the Middle East. In the last few years the company has also diversified into pharmaceuticals manufacturing.
“Health expenditure and health awareness among the people is growing day by day. We are seeing growth in the adoption of health insurance, and when people are covered their expenditure in the sector increases,” says Nuri.
In 2013 Medtech entered a joint venture with the UAE’s pharmaceutical giant Julphar to open a 170m Ethiopian birr ($8.3m) production plant. Last year it also acquired the previously state-owned Ethiopian Pharmaceuticals Manufacturing Factory (EPHARM) for $25m. The oldest drug manufacturer in Ethiopia, EPHARM has eight manufacturing lines for various products.
“There is big opportunity for pharmaceutical manufacturing [because] nearly 85% of the Ethiopian demand is covered by imports,” says Nuri. “At Julphar Ethiopia, for instance, we have taken orders from the government that we will supply over the next six months. We cannot take any more orders. So for the next six months we are working 24 hours, seven days a week to service that order. You can see, for a new investor, this is really an attractive area.”
Destined to become a businessman
Nuri also runs a general hospital called Zenbaba, two pharmacies and a pharma wholesaler. He graduated from medical school at age 23, and later gave up an opportunity to lecture at his university to start his own small business.