What are the present medical market challenges as it pertains to Africa?
Deitersen: Global issues like the COVID-19 pandemic also impact Africa. When it comes to importing products, countries in Africa are just as affected by supply difficulties as other countries. From a long-term perspective, Africa – unlike Europe or Southeast Asia – is very large, heterogenous, and has a lower level of economic integration. What’s more, Africa is rapidly changing and has many young people and emerging and developing markets. Added to this mix are other common challenges that apply to every market and especially every emerging market in the world. This includes poor infrastructure and corruption in government and business, though it should be noted that the view from afar – from a German perspective, for example – often depicts a picture that is worse than reality.
Which medical equipment manufacturers should consider expanding their business into the medical market in Africa?
Deitersen: Since medicine is a broad field and South Africa cannot be compared to Rwanda or Egypt, diversification is a key strategy. Africa’s population is comparatively young, with the highest share belonging to the low to middle income class. For medical equipment manufacturers, this means products – whether it’s a machine or pharmaceutical product – that are positioned at the lowest level of Maslow's hierarchy of needs tend to have a larger market in Africa. It is all about meeting existential challenges. Larger markets mean bigger opportunities for companies, but it also denotes stronger competition, requiring businesses to extend more effort to be successful. Some African economies are growing fast, and incomes are rising. This opens new markets that move beyond meeting existential needs. These new markets are often served poorly or not at all. This means new opportunities to become a market pioneer and get a head start that can result in more profitability in the medium to long term. In some countries, laboratory equipment is a great example of this. Right now, you have more and more on-site testing services for medical purposes or to facilitate product certification. To cut a long story short, the best time to enter the medical market in Africa was yesterday, but the next best time is now and not tomorrow.
How did you like the MEDICA 2021 Trade Fair?
Deitersen: We were obviously very delighted to give our presentation at MEDICA. The organization was excellent, and the event flowed smoothly. We are also very excited to see that both organizers and visitors of the trade fair view Africa as a chance for business. I believe Africa is one of the most promising regions in the world that presents enormous growth and exciting investment opportunities to global business for expansion. It has many problems that can and must be solved.