Right to Proper Health Care Service

Innovation or Aid: Which will heal Africa’s Health Industry?


Africa is a continent with many health challenges, such as infectious diseases, malnutrition, maternal mortality, and lack of access to quality care. Many well-meaning organisations and governments have tried to address these problems by providing international aid, such as donations, grants, loans, or technical assistance. However, this approach has not been very effective in creating sustainable and scalable solutions for Africa’s health industry. In fact, it may have even created more dependency and inefficiency in the long run. We will see that international aid is not the solution for Africa’s health industry, and that a better alternative is to foster market-creating innovations that can generate prosperity and transform the continent.

What are market-creating innovations?

Market-creating innovations are products or services that transform complicated and expensive products into simple and affordable ones, making them accessible to many more people in society. These innovations are unique in their ability to trigger economic prosperity at scale, by creating new markets, new jobs, new infrastructure, new institutions, and new cultural norms.


Why are market-creating innovations better?

Market-creating innovations are better than international aid for several reasons:

  1. They are driven by customer demand, not donor supply. This means that they are more likely to meet the needs and preferences of the people they serve, and to adapt to changing circumstances.
  2. They are self-sustaining, not dependent on external funding. This means that they can generate revenue and profits that can be reinvested in improving their products or services, or expanding their reach.
  3. They are empowering, not disempowering. This means that they enable people to solve their own problems, rather than relying on others to do it for them.
  4. They are catalytic, not incremental. This means that they create positive spillover effects that benefit not only their customers, but also their suppliers, distributors, employees, competitors, regulators, and society at large.


How to foster market-creating innovations

Fostering market-creating innovations in Africa’s health industry requires a shift in mindset and strategy from both the public and private sectors. Some of the key steps are:

  1. Identify nonconsumption opportunities: look for segments of the population that are not served or underserved by existing products or services in the health industry, and understand their jobs to be done (the problems they are trying to solve or the progress they are trying to make).
  2. Develop simple and affordable solutions: design products or services that can address the jobs to be done by nonconsumers at a price they can afford and with a quality they can trust.
  3. Build enabling infrastructure: invest in the physical and institutional infrastructure that can support the delivery and adoption of the products or services, such as roads, electricity, internet, payment systems, regulations, standards, etc.
  4. Cultivate a culture of innovation: encourage a mindset of experimentation, learning, iteration, collaboration, and risk-taking among entrepreneurs, investors, policymakers, educators, researchers, and civil society.



International aid is not the solution for Africa’s health industry. It may have some short-term benefits, but it cannot create long-term prosperity and transformation. A better alternative is to foster market-creating innovations that can generate new markets, new jobs, new infrastructure, new institutions, and new cultural norms. These innovations can unleash the potential of millions of Africans to improve their own health outcomes and contribute to their own economic development.

Dr Ejob Gaius


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