Arab Spring Might Spur Business Opportunities for Medical Device Manufacturers, says German Trade Agency

August 22, 2013 – 8:29 am

After the upheavals of the last two years and the on-going turmoil in Egypt, the situation in the North African state is still quite uncertain. Nevertheless, the changing political landscape might result in enormous opportunities for medical device manufacturers. In its industry report [text is in German; log-in required], the German trade agency Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI) highlights the chances and risks for countries in North Africa and environs.

  • Tunisia is one of the countries in the region with a well-developed healthcare system that even attracts medical tourists. After the fall of the Ben Ali regime, the government encouraged the development of hospitals in disadvantaged regions. The GTAI expects greater private investment funneled into the construction of new hospitals. Currently, a Japanese company is building a 400-bed hospital, and China has announced financial support for the construction of a university hospital in the coastal city of Sfax. Tunisian hospital companies may profit from the reconstruction of the health sector in Libya. On the other hand, the assassination of Tunisian political opposition leader Mohamed Brahmi has the potential to trigger further unrest.
  • Libya: The Libyan health sector was severely affected by the the civil war. The public healthcare system, which provides free healthcare to the entire population, was already in transition before the revolution. The GTAI anticipates an increase in the construction of private practices and clinics. Because of oil-driven prosperity, the country is likely to step up expenditures in the medical sector once the situation stabilises. The country’s economy shrank by more than 60% in 2011, according to the International Monetary Fund, but grew last year by about 104%. This was mainly because the country’s oil production in 2012 increased by 215%.
  •  Egypt: Because of recent events, the country’s economic development is difficult to predict. Before the overthrow of Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood, the GTAI expected demand for medical technology to continue to rise. It assumed that demographics, low per capita spending and increasing claims for better health would drive growth. Currently, there are plans to modernise or build about 70 hospitals. As domestic production is largely limited to consumer goods and less sophisticated devices, the country’s medical sector depends on imports.

Even countries in the region that have not experienced a revolution are changing rapidly. In fact, the uprisings may have increased pressure on regimes to improve healthcare for their populations.

  • Algeria has a major backlog in healthcare investment, according to the GTAI. Therefore, the agency expects double-digit growth in medical technology imports for 2013 and 2014. The 2013 state budget provides €2.9 billion to the country’s medical sector.
  • Morocco plans to spend about €260 million in healthcare in 2013. Since the country needs to save money, it is unlikely that all of the money will actually be spent this year. Currently a US$100 million hospital funded by the Emirate of Abu Dhabi is being built in Casablanca.

 

— Thomas Klein

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