The Sunday News
Judith Phiri, Business Reporter
A DELEGATION of Indian business people who were in Bulawayo on Friday expressed willingness to invest in
Zimbabwe’s pharmaceutical sector in a bid to aid in the reduction of high cost of medicines.
Speaking during an Indian delegation tour of the Bulawayo-based pharmaceutical company, Zimbabwe Pharmaceuticals (ZimPharm), Indeus Life Sciences Private Limited managing director Mr Dharmaraj Shetty said the pharmaceutical sector presented a lot of potential to them and they were willing to work with the sector to aid in the reduction of high cost of medicines.
“I am from the pharmaceutical sector in India and as a medicine manufacturer l see potential in the sector here in Zimbabwe. As highlighted, it seems there are fewer pharmaceutical companies in this country which is the attribute to the high cost of medicines. As investors our particular vision is to see reduced prices and improve the industry so that Zimbabwe can also become a big exporter for pharmaceutical products,” said Mr Shetty.
He also noted that they were likely to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on 5 May with players in pharmaceutical sector that will see a deeper relationship between the pharmaceutical sectors in India and Zimbabwe.
Mr Shetty also said that the other area of concern they were likely to work on was manufacturing and exporting medicine in bulk so that it can then be packed in Zimbabwe to make it affordable and easy for distribution,.
“The only issue is how to reduce the price by putting more industries and packaging to be done locally.
We request the Government of Zimbabwe to look into this particular factor and to relax a bit on the regulations so that the medicines are made available and cheaper to the people. For investment we will look at the Government’s support and the incentives they can give us as we need protection on a business point of view.”
Mr Shetty said that once all had been finalised they will start building a factory which will at least take three to four years to be constructed and start the supply chain in the country.
Indo Baltic Trade Council corporate relations director Mr Sanjeev Rao said India working with Zimbabwe will see the country being assisted with state-of-the-art machinery to improve the efficiency of the medicine manufacturing thereby reducing the cost of production so that the selling price could also come down.
Meanwhile, responding to questions after the Indian delegation tour of the plant, ZimPharm head of operations Mr Donald Mabhiza said they were implementing a Covid-19 pandemic recovery plan and the company was in need of US$ 1,8 million to retool. ZimPharm’s revenue in 2020 dropped by 45 percent due to Covid-19 pandemic which badly affected most businesses in the country and globally.
“With the revenue drop experienced last year we are on a path to regain by implementing a recovery plan and following the general improvement trend of the economy. Production capacity fluctuates with seasons but generally it is between 34 and 46 percent so for retooling we need about US$1, 8 or US$1,9 million,” said Mr Mabhiza.
Mr Mabhiza added that retooling was closely linked to capacity utilisation in the sense that modern and efficient equipment which could do medicine batches in half the time would result in the reduction of cost and enable accessibility of medicine to more Zimbabweans locally.