Health tech industry soars in Africa

The African health tech sector is experiencing significant growth, thanks in part to the pandemic.

Both the number of health tech startups funded and the amount invested in them have surged drastically in recent years. According to a study conducted by Disrupt Africa, capital for health tech startups increased by 257.5% between 2019 and 2020.

30 startups were featured in alumni-led Yale Africa Startup Review’s inaugural list and six of them were in health tech, the most of any category. The list featured Egypt’s Chefaa, Malawi’s Apex Medical Laboratories and South Africa’s RecoMed.

Chefaa is a GPS-enabled platform that serves pharmaceutical needs, including letting patients schedule, order and refill prescriptions. “The gap in healthcare services in Africa is huge, leaving behind growing opportunities for health tech startups to fill,” the company’s co-founder, Rasha Rady, told Quartz. “After [the] Covid crisis, the role of health tech startups in narrowing that gap was apparent, confirming value propositions, and decreased investment risk.”

The gap in healthcare services in Africa is huge, leaving behind growing opportunities for health tech startups to fill

Telehealth, otherwise referred to as healthcare delivered remotely, has significant propensity to fill existing coverage gaps, especially in remote areas. During the Covid-19 lockdowns, this field boomed across the globe. While much attention has been placed on the more technologically advanced aspects of remote medicine, its most revolutionary potential is in expanding access to traditionally underserved populations.

Rural and remote areas are most likely to benefit from telehealth, including for specialized treatment. In areas where internet connectivity is rarely available, telehealth providers can opt for phone calls or even instant messaging in lieu of video calls. The key will be to invest in the necessary digital infrastructure.

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