Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has endorsed the launch of an innovative response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa, known as Connecting the Dots Initiative (CDI).
The initiative is promoted by DFS Africa, a London based and Africa focused transaction advisory and strategic implementation firm, in collaboration with a consortium of partners, including the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change (TBI), the Federation of African Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (FAPMA), African Pandemic Response Alliance (APRA), and Kenya Manufacturing Association.
A statement, yesterday, by DFS Africa said the CDI platform is designed to ease the supply chain challenges in the procurement of COVID-19 essential products, and that the platform was developed as an immediate response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The CDI platform offers several benefits to suppliers and buyers and is fast becoming the African hub for purchasing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), diagnostic equipment, pharmaceuticals and other essential clinical products needed to fight current and future pandemics. Beyond aggregating supply, it offers ease of payment through the support of major banks and finance institutions across the continent. Buyers also find that the platform offers access to critical supplies only from vetted and certified manufacturers across the continent.
"It is a robust technology platform that aggregates essential medical and pharmaceutical supplies from current and prospective producers on the continent, offering access to governments, as well as philanthropic and private sector off-takers across Africa. The CDI is designed to connect African manufacturers or suppliers of COVID-19 essential products to institutions and organisations that require these products."
Obasanjo, who is expected to deliver a keynote address at the virtual formal launch of the platform later this month, said, "I am delighted to observe a platform such as the CDI as an innovative African solution that is not only promoting intra-Africa trade but also addressing one of the biggest public health challenges in a century. I look forward to the impact that it will make across the continent."
According to the Co-Founder and Chief Engagement Officer at DFS Africa, Bankole Eniola, "Many African manufacturers have been limited by the unfavourable market conditions that often favour imports. However, given the COVID-19 driven demand for products, the Connecting the Dots Initiative is able to link up those seeking products with the current and latent potential of these producers."
The CDI platform becomes interesting in light of common knowledge that most African countries have weak public health systems and import up to 80 per cent of the continent's pharmaceutical needs, particularly with the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging all 55 African states.
The statement said DFS Africa and its partners have found that the capacity to ramp up production of these items exists across the continent.
"The platform could potentially greatly benefit FAMPA members. Market access is one of the strategic pillars for the development of the pharma industry captured in the Africa Union Commission (AUC) endorsed Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa (PMPA) business plan. This platform would facilitate that process," said the President of FAPMA, Emmanuel Mujuru.
The Chief Operations Officer at DFS Africa, creators of the CDI platform, Mr. Olukayode Afolabi said, "Through the partnerships we have established within the African manufacturing ecosystem and financial services organisations across the continent, we are able to support African governments, healthcare institutions and other major buyers of essential COVID-19 products and equipment to access the most critical products in a timely and cost-effective manner. We are proud that this is an African solution that will not only help meet immediate needs but also help in growing our industrial base."