Private Sector Investments Driving Healthcare Advancements In Africa: GITEX

June 12, 2024


Private sector investments are pivotal for advancing healthcare across Africa, particularly in accelerating the digital transformation and integrating cutting-edge technologies for enhanced medical services.

This focal point resonated strongly during the inaugural World Future Health Africa event, a highlight of the second edition of GITEX Africa, held in Marrakech from May 29 to 31. As the continent’s largest tech and startups showcase, the event served as a crucial platform bridging public and private sectors.

Its aim was to forge partnerships essential for securing the necessary financial backing to expedite Africa’s healthcare digitalization. Key priorities discussed included the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) solutions and the broader adoption of telemedicine, aiming to significantly improve healthcare delivery across the region.

GITEX Africa, organized by KAOUN International—an affiliate of Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC)—is a key platform facilitating these discussions.

Featuring 1,400 tech enterprises and startups, including over 200 Moroccan startups and 26 Egyptian companies, GITEX AFRICA serves as a vital link connecting entrepreneurs with investors. It fosters an environment conducive to innovation and entrepreneurship, crucial for advancing healthcare and other sectors across the continent.

Digital push

AI applications in healthcare could save 1 million African lives by 2030. Electronic health records have been shown to reduce medication errors by 55%, while wearable devices achieve up to 98% accuracy in detecting specific health issues, as highlighted in a study discussed during the event.

Moreover, digital tools have demonstrated the ability to significantly reduce patient costs, with average savings around 19% and reductions of up to 40% in the most common medical expenses.

Digital solutions also promise to expand healthcare access to an additional 400 million people in Africa. Remote healthcare services, which can potentially reach 74% of the African population—over 700 million individuals—are another critical aspect highlighted by the study.

Furthermore, enhancing data collection, integration, and analysis capabilities could lead to a 30% increase in operational efficiency and a 15% reduction in administrative costs for African healthcare systems. These improvements not only streamline operations but also contribute to better patient outcomes across the continent.

Addressing the challenges of healthcare spending in Africa, Nigeria’s Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Tunji Alausa, highlighted that healthcare budgets across the continent typically amount to less than 10% of each country’s GDP. He stressed the necessity of gradually increasing this allocation to exceed 15% of GDP, underscoring resource mobilization and collaborative partnerships with development partners as crucial steps. Integration of AI tools was also emphasized to enhance the healthcare ecosystem.

Akin Abayomi, the Honorable Commissioner of Nigeria’s Ministry of Health, emphasized the importance of effective financial management of funds from International Financial Institutions (IFIs) to boost Africa’s healthcare sector. He advocated for increased financing levels from IFIs to enable digital transformation, telemedicine acceleration, and the digitization of medical services across the continent.

Africa to lead the scene

Looking ahead, Trixie LohMirmand, CEO of GITEX AFRICA organizer KAOUN International, highlighted the pivotal role of AI solutions and e-healthcare advancements for Africa’s economic development and public health. She emphasized that AI-powered, data-driven healthcare solutions are essential for Africa’s future, predicting that the continent will lead in e-healthcare and telemedicine innovation due to accelerated digital transformation and entrepreneurial initiatives in the region.

Egypt’s case

Mazen Aladdin, the general supervisor of the Egyptian Healthcare Authority, highlighted Egypt’s approach to enhancing healthcare services through collaboration with the private sector. He emphasized the Egyptian government’s priority of increasing the private sector’s role in the economy, particularly within healthcare. This is achieved through partnerships aimed at improving management and service quality across healthcare facilities.

Aladdin pointed to recent legislative advancements, including a new law allowing the private sector to manage and operate public healthcare facilities for the first time. This initiative, approved by the Egyptian House of Representatives in May, aims to enhance service quality, efficiency, and geographical distribution.

“Private sector investments are key, as they help the country accelerate the digital transition in the sector, adopt the state-of-art solutions, keep up with the latest improvements the global healthcare witnesses, and all of that help support the state’s efforts in this regard,” said Aladdin.

Regarding digital healthcare, Aladdin disclosed ongoing efforts to draft legislation regulating telemedicine services in Egypt. This initiative aims to enable remote clinical services using electronic audio and visual tools.