Healthcare in Africa

South Africa Working towards a world-class life sciences industry

Life Sciences and Healthcare industry has been identified a critical aspect for economic diversification. The current economic conditions have been attributed to a combination of global and domestic factors which have negatively affected some of South Africa’s established industries such as energy and resources.

In line with the experiences of other open middle-income economies, South Africa has experienced subdued growth in recent years; averaging approximately 2.3% year-on-year GDP growth from 2011 to 2015. The reliance of industries such as mining and resources on exports has added significant pressure to the trade deficit and current account as global resource prices have dropped.

However, despite these challenges, South Africa is still ranked as Africa’s second-largest economy with a GDP of USD318 billion (USD5 951 per capita) recorded in 2015 and is considered to be Africa’s most diverse economy in terms of economic activity (i.e. manufacturing, resource extraction, services and value-added exports).  Perhaps acknowledging that there needs to be more industries contributing to the economy if South Africa is to sustain its economic position in the continent, policies such as the National Development Plan (NDP), the Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) and the Bio-economy Strategy (BES) have been published as guidelines for how additional diversification can be achieved. It is clear that the reliance on low value-added mineral exports must be reduced and the economy must supply a higher proportion of value-added products to domestic, regional and global markets.

Contributing to this conversation, we are championing the Life Sciences industry as one that has the potential to play a pivotal role in diversifying the economy. South Africa has the largest life sciences market on the African continent, at approximately USD3.5 billion. This feeds into what is the continent’s largest healthcare market valued at approximately USD28 billion.

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