Boosting the pharmaceutical ecosystem in Botswana

Botswana faces significant challenges in addressing health threats such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and now Covid-19. Botswana’s interest in the local production of pharmaceutical products increased after the Covid-19 pandemic due to the low availability of medicines.


Botswana Investment Trade Center (BITC) came to Africa RISE in late 2022 to request support to conduct a market assessment and feasibility study on the development of the pharmaceutical sector in Botswana. The assignment was approved in November 2022, and a team of experts were then contracted to commence work . As of August 2023, the two studies were completed , a market assessment study and a sector study, which were shared with BITC and other stakeholders. Following these studies, a validation workshop was planned to discuss the findings and recommendations.


The workshop was held in Gaborone on the 27th of September 2023.The objective was to bring together different stakeholders from the pharmaceutical ecosystem to share key findings from these reports, validate these reports and gain further direction from the participants about the possible implementation of key recommendations.


At the end of the workshop, the reports were validated, with some additional suggestions on the way forward provided by participants. Key points from the discussions are presented below:

           Overall, stakeholders were pleased that the study reports provide the current state of play  of the pharmaceutical industry in the country and its place in the region as well as the identified opportunities that could be leveraged to further develop and expand the pharmaceutical industry.

o   Participants agreed with the following short-term and long-term investment opportunities presented in the report: In relation to short-term investment opportunities, Botswana has the greatest potential in manufacturing tablets followed by injectables. There are opportunities for niche conventional medicines, for example oncology medicines. Other potential conventional medicines are antiretroviral, analgesics, cardiovascular and anti-infective.

o   There is an opportunity for local secondary manufacturers to expand their operations through the combination of resources with the objective of improved GMP quality, increased use of existing capacity and expanding to primary manufacturing.

o   Opportunities for biopharmaceutical products through expansions of veterinary vaccine production and manufacturing of human vaccines.

o   In the longer term, investment opportunities include raw materials from the mining industry to be used to produce pharmaceutical grade salt and intravenous fluids and excipients derived from the bovine industry such as gelatin and lactose.

o   Investment opportunities for herbal medicine such as further extraction of active ingredients from natural plants harvested in the region, like harpagoside from Devils´ Claw and to develop a national database for medicinal plants have been identified.

o   There is an opportunity for Botswana to have a regional center of excellence for services such as regulation, , certifications and training. Botswana Medicines Regulatory Authority has the potential to become a regulatory center of excellence.


           Stakeholders had suggestions of other medicines for example oncology medicines that could be produced locally in Botswana. These could be a niche product for Botswana as there is no one manufacturing and exporting these medicines to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) or ZAZIBONA (Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia) region and therefore this could give Botswana a competitive edge.

           There was a general agreement that Botswana had a small market and so exporting is an important option to consider to increase the size of its target market and allow for a more profitable industry.


The way forward and concluding remarks

We have the right ingredients to make Botswana a conducive environment. The ingredients need to be put together to make a menu” as stated by Mrs Segakweng Tsiane, the founder and leader of T3000 consultancies and Logistix which is in the private sector. Furthermore, “Botswana could find a niche in collaboration and in complementarity to develop its pharmaceutical industry” as stated by Mabel Magowe a representative from University of Botswana which is the parastatal sector. Botswana could collaborate with other countries and produce products that will complement what is already there in the market and not just compete. Mr Bene Paramadhas, a representative from Central Medical Stores from the public health sector expressed how tablets may also have a huge potential for manufacturing. Findings from the market assessment study indicate that tablets have the highest estimated value and forecasted annual consumption compared to other types of medicines. The current results of the survey show that 75% of the stakeholders agree that it is possible to manufacture, innovate and improve access to medicines to transform Botswana's pharmaceutical sector into a modern and competitive hub for Sub-Saharan Africa. Although there are more people to respond to the survey, the responses to the survey so far show that stakeholders are optimistic about the future