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Tanzania calls for investment in its pharmaceutical sector

Government says it has the support of the East African Community — of which Tanzania is a member — to reverse importing nearly 70 percent of the medicines it needs.

Tanzania’s government believes it is perfectly positioned to address the untapped medical sector in the East African region.

Speaking at the Tanzania-Israel Business and Investment Forum in May, Minister of Industries, Trade and Investment Charles Mwijage said investors would benefit from access the East African Community (EAC) and SADC markets. He added that Tanzania’s health sector was less competitive and that the sector had the focus of government as it worked on solutions to reduce import costs related to medicines.

“Let me divulge a secret to you. If you want to invest in Tanzania, the medical industry is the only area that [is] less competitive. Set up medical industries in Tanzania. The market is there because there are over 50 million people who need EAC — of which Tanzania is a member — imports nearly 70 percent of the medicines it needs.

Chairperson of the EAC Council of Ministers Kirunda Kivejinja said his organisation was determined to reverse the trend and strengthen local production capacity.

“Vaccines are among a category of medicines that the region wholly depends on imports as currently there is no local production capacity. There is a vacuum and nature hates [a] vacuum.”

Minister Mwijage echoed Mr. Kivejinja’s sentiments adding that his department was presently in the final stages of review of several laws in the country that hinder progress and ease of doing business in the country.

At least three pieces of legislation will be presented to the National Assembly for amendment. These include the Investment Act of 1997, Standards Act No. 2 of 2009, and Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act of 1999.

Mr. Mwijage said the review would include removing contradictions which hamper implementation of laws and thereby impeded government’s efforts to improve investing conditions in the country.

He said the country’s business policy at EAC level, and consumer protection policy against unfair and misleading markets would also be reviewed.

“The government intends to come up with new policies including a National Standards policy, as well as a new strategy on innovative copyright.”

According to Xinhua News Agency, Minister Mwijage is also working to ensure that the Trade Facilitation Agreement of the World Trade organisation is ratified by the National Assembly. It’s believed a draft of the agreement has already been submitted for scrutiny by government.


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