Addis Fortune (Addis Ababa)

Ethiopia: Govt, UAE Inaugurate Drug Company

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, inaugurating the first African plant for Julphar with Sheik Fasil bin Al Qasimi, chairman of Julphar followed by Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi Trade Minister of UAE.

Medtech-Ethiopia, in conjunction with Julphar Gulf Pharmaceutical Industries, based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), inaugurated a 170 million Br pharmaceutical manufacturing factory, in Bole District, Addis Abeba, on Wednesday, February 6, 2013.

Once fully operational, the Julphar Ethiopia plant will produce 25 million bottles of suspensions and syrups, 500 million tablets and 200 million capsules annually, says Mohammed Nuri, CEO of Medtech-Ethiopia.

It took a year to construct the factory, which rests on a 372sqm plot; however, there could be an expansion of the plant in two years, if the Addis Abeba City Administration grants the 25,000sqm plot the company has requested, according to Mohammed.

The official opening ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, alongside the minister of foreign affairs, Tedros Adhanom (Phd); UAE Ambassador to Ethiopia, Yousuf Eissa Hassen Alsabri (Dr); Sheikh Faisal bin Al Qasimi, chairman of Julphar; and the UAE minister of Trade, Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi.

"You can count on my government's support; our door is always open," said Hailemariam, whilst congratulating Al Qasimi on the venture.

Julphar Ethiopia Offices in Gerge, next to the 170 million Br pharmaceutical factory which will produce tablets, capsules and syrups. Mohammed Nuri, CEO of Julphar Ethiopia and managing director of Medtech Ethiopia , has a 45pc investment share in the plant.

The new plant, which is a first inAfricafor Julphar, is equipped with state of the art technology, said Mohammed Nuri.

"The opening of this facility will enable us not only to be a vital supplier to the local market, but way beyond that, across the whole continent. We have worked closely with the Ethiopian government and other global health organisations in the planning of this facility and we are excited about the impact this will have on the local healthcare platform," he said.

The factory is hiring 50 local staff in various capacities.

At the inauguration ceremony held in the new plant compound, Sheik Lubna al Qasimi, said, "We are proud Julphar represents the UAE with its investment in this facility."

According to the Ethiopian Investment Agency, there are about 100 companies from the UAE, which have been licenced to work in the country, from May 2002 up to February 2011.

Pharmaceutical manufacturing is not a hugely attractive area for investment inEthiopia, since there are stringent regulatory controls and very high technical standards required, according to a study conducted by the Drug and Administration Control Authority (DACA). The sector has been in difficulty over the past five years, and four companies were closed by two state owned banks, due to the failure to serve their loan obligations, the study states.

The local company, Medtech, started working with Julphar, as an exclusive agent, 10 years ago, for the purpose of importing 85 types of medical products.

MedtechEthiopiais a privately owned pharmaceutical and medical supplies importer and distributer, which was established in 1998 with a capital of 500,000Br.It has now reached 20 million Br, according to Mohammed. The company is an exclusive agency for 26 international companies, from which it imports various medical supplies and equipment, said Mohammed.

Medtech has branches in Hawassa, Bahir Dar, Dessie, Mekele, Dire Dawa and Jimma. It has a number of sister companies too, including;Zenbaba GeneralHospital, Pharmaline Pharmaceutical Wholesaler and Royal and Enat pharmacies.

The Ethiopian pharmaceutical industry currently consists of 13 pharmaceutical and medical supply manufacturers; 10 of these produce pharmaceuticals, whilst the rest are engaged in producing medical supplies, such as; syringes, absorbent cottons and lab equipment. Most of these factories are owned by Ethiopian nationals, and meet only 20pc of the country's demand for drugs.

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