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pharma.aero featuring in STAT Times cover story on the African Air Cargo

Trevor Caswell, Chairman of pharma.aero, and Frank Van Gelder, pharma.aero Secretary General, were interviewed to feature in STAT Times’ cover story on the African Air Cargo, in preparation for the upcoming Air Cargo Africa conference in Johannesburg (21 – 23 February). pharma.aero will host the Pharma and Healthcare Session, on day 2 of Air Cargo Africa (22 February), with our members and partners Hazgo, Envirotainer and BDP forming the panel.

STAT Times: “Africa has a very insignificant share in global volumes and its woes were accelerated and exposed during and through the Covid-19 pandemic. Africa is in real need of a robust air cargo industry, particularly during the onset of an outbreak. It not only lacks a stable air cargo market but is also severely deficient in investments in its air cargo facilities.”

Frank Van Gelder calls the state of the air cargo industry in Africa contradictory. “The African continent is big, which means it has a lot of growth potential. On the other hand, the high-level equipment needed for pharmaceutical logistics is only available at fewer airports and very few are certified/equipped to handle those shipments in the best possible way. Some of the big pharma companies are looking into developing production areas in Africa. But on the other hand, the logistics are not yet on the level it should have been,” he said.

Trevor Caswell stresses the importance of having investments in key remote regions or hard-to-reach places of Africa. “Also, there is a need for processes to be developed to ensure that the products are handled properly in the final mile. They both go hand in hand,” he said. Caswell noted that pharma.aero is trying to connect those regions with the already-developed places and look for tech solutions like drones. For instance, pharma.aero did a project on flying vaccines on drones to remote hospitals in Malawi to prove that it is doable.

Gelder noted that the difficulty to move Covid-19 vaccines in Africa, particularly in the last mile, triggered pharma.aero’s attention to Africa. “The spread of the vaccine went very well in most parts of the world but not in Africa. The reason was the last mile. We realise that sending over vaccines to very remote areas is not very easy,” he said. Caswell noted that Africa is very rich in resources and has the opportunity to grow and build infrastructure to support pharma much like the rest of the world. “There’s a lot of potential there. We’re also looking for a strategic partner airport in Africa,” Caswell said.

Regulators and governments are the final decision-makers. The industry needs to be highly regulated for safety and security however there is no room for regulators to steer away from international/common standards. Gelder opines that the African Union should work as a union on the level of regulations. “Because that’s the headache that many of the exporting countries see. What is law and regulations in country A is not the same in country B and is not the same in country C. So there is no African continent approach to it,” he said. Caswell also noted stability on the regulatory side as the number one concern within the continent and it can decide its future. “In the future, when Africa manufactures and produces pharma, it needs to have reliability and stability in the market. That also will have a large contribution to how Africa will succeed in the future,” he said.

You can read the entire article here: https://www.stattimes.com/air-cargo/african-air-cargo-urges-countries-to-dream-bigger-together-1347756

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