There is growing interest in Mali for greater engagement with Indian pharmaceuticals and allied sectors for win-win cooperation. A large number of Indian and Malian businessmen are already engaged in sourcing pharmaceuticals products from India for the growing demands in the Malian market.
“In 2021-2022, India exported pharmaceutical products to Mali worth USD 40.64 million, a growth of 22.86 percent over the previous year (2020-2021). However, there is a realization on both sides that the current state of partnership between India and Maliin the pharmaceuticals sector is well below the potential that exists,” India’s ambassador Anjani Kumar in Mali told Financial Express Online.
Mali is a large landlocked country in West Africa, about one-third the size of India in terms of territory. It has a population of about 20 million of which about 50 percent is below the age of 18 years. According to the Indian envoy, “Mali is one of the fastest growing countries in terms of population growth rate. Mali’s young population would be an asset that would contribute to building a better and developed Mali in coming years. This will inevitably increase the needs for quality and affordable healthcare in Mali and the Indian pharmaceuticals sector can play an increasingly important role in this regard.”
It was in this context that a seminar on India-Mali Cooperation in the Pharmaceutical Sector was held in Bamako on 18 May 2022 in collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Mali (CCIM). The main objective was to bring on one platform various Indian and Malian players dealing with the pharmaceuticals sector in Mali, identify synergies for growth and also understand the challenges so that they could be addressed.
Sharing details about the seminar, Ambassador Anjani Kumar said that it received enthusiastic participation from the government of Mali and their pharma sector. Representatives from Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Mali, Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Ministry of Health, National Health Laboratory (LNS), Pharmacy and Medicine Department (DPM), National Council of the Order of Pharmacists of Mali (CNOP), National Council of the Order of Physicians of Mali (CNOM), National Union of Pharmacist of Mali (SYNAPHARM), Autonomous Union of Private Pharmacists (SYNAPPO) of Mali, Young Pharmacists Collective (COJEP) of Mali, distributors of Pharmaceutical products in Mali, Indian companies dealing with pharmaceutical sector, etc. attended the seminar and had a fruitful discussion regarding enhancing India-Mali cooperation in the pharmaceutical sector.
The Malian side expressed the following interests and challenges regarding partnership with Indian pharmaceuticals sector:
Establishment of manufacturing plants in Mali as joint ventures with Indian companies for some of the products which would be cost-effective if they were made in Mali and distributed in Mai and West Africa; investment by Indian companies in pharmaceuticals sector; transfer of technology; training of pharmacists in India; addressing challenges related to shipment and logistics, facilitating institutional mutual guarantees in dealing with Indian partners, among others.
“What is encouraging is that the Indian pharmaceuticals industry and their varied products are highly regarded in Mali for their global standards and cost effectiveness,” he says. Adding, “In fact, many Malians have repeatedly mentioned that one of the direct benefits of growing partnership with the Indian pharmaceuticals sector would be that it would drastically reduce the cost of general healthcare in Mali. They are aware of the role of the pharmaceutical and allied sectors in the evolution of a healthy society and in the socio-economic development of countries.”
India extended a helping hand during COVID-19
Malians are also aware of the positive role India has been playing during the COVID-19 pandemic when it demonstrated leadership and walked-the-talk by initially supplying medicines and subsequently vaccines to more than 100 countries across the world. The Government of India had gifted life-saving medicines to Mali after the onset of COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and later in 2021, Made-in-India Covishield vaccines arrived in Mali through the COVAX alliance.
Indian envoy shares his views
“From my interactions with Malian doctors and businessmen dealing with Indian pharmaceuticals products, I know that Mali is keen to move beyond only sourcing of pharmaceutical products from India towards joint ventures and local production in Mali. The Government of Mali encourages such ventures. There are Malians who are actively looking for Indian JV partners and investors in the pharmaceuticals sector. A government doctor working with the largest government of hospital and college in Mali (Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Du Point G in Bamako) told me that Mali would like it’s doctors to be trained in India in specialised areas or alternatively Indian Medical experts can visit Mali for short-terms and impart training to Malian doctors and medical fraternity. There is also growing interest in Mali for visiting India for Medical Tourism in recognition of India’s high-quality medical facilities and services at an affordable cost compared to other destinations in north Africa, Europe and the Americas.“
It is clear that Mali presents a good opportunity for the Indian pharmaceuticals industry and entrepreneurs for long-term win-win partnership which also holds true for markets in West Africa and the wider African continent.