Brazilian industry sees good business opportunities at Medic West Africa

With wide array of products, Brazilian manufacturers go to Nigeria to seek opportunities in a developing market

With over 190 million inhabitants and disputing the symbolic position of main leader of the African continent, Nigeria has emerged as a market full of opportunities for the Brazilian health care industry. To improve these opportunities for new business, Brazilian Health Devices, a sector project carried out by ABIMO (Brazilian Medical, Dental and Laboratories Devices Manufacturers Association) in partnership with the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex-Brasil), is organizing the visit of eight health devices manufacturers to Medic West Africa, the sector’s most important trade show in West Africa, to be held October 9-11 in the Nigerian city of Lagos.

As one of the project's list of target markets for the 2019-2021 period, Nigeria is also positioned as an excellent gateway to other smaller countries, and Medic West Africa is wide open to distributors and direct buyers from nations like Benin, Ghana, Liberia, and Senegal. The developing country has demands that can be satisfied by Brazilian production. “The region as a whole values cost-effective products,” says Rafael Cavalcante, ABIMO's market access coordinator, who stressed that, in addition to Brazilian production being aligned with market interests, Brazil's image is very positive on the continent. “Brazil is considered a friendly and very reliable partner,” he adds.

The member companies of Brazilian Health Devices that will be present at the Brazilian pavilion at Medic West Africa are looking forward to the trade show. “Unlike Brazil, there are no medical-device manufacturers in the African market. In addition, the continent's health infrastructure is under development and the potential of this scenario is enormous,” says Everton J. da Silva, export supervisor for Samtronic.

Accentuating this perception of the developing market, Medpej’s exhibit will focus on products for the gynecological specialty. “African countries are still starting to grow in the medical and hospital areas, thanks to government investment in the construction of new hospitals and infrastructure improvements. Opportunities have also arisen as the local medical class sets up their clinics and small private hospitals, which creates even greater demand for equipment,” says Edson Grisanti, responsible for the export and import sector.

Challenges to be overcome – Members of the Brazilian industry point out that one of the main challenges in trade with Africa is competition with products entering these markets with lower quality and at a lower price. “Many companies in these countries are Chinese and Indian companies that provide low prices in markets that are not used to absorbing high-tech, value-added products,” explains Thiago Feubach Otoni, export coordinator at GMReis. 

Furthermore, building reliable partnerships with local distributors can be laborious and not always synonymous with successful sales. “There is some difficulty in establishing lasting links with reliable distributors,” Cavalcante indicates. For the ABIMO coordinator, this is one of the points that make the business environment in Africa still challenging. "You have to be aware of the seriousness of the transactions, and the constant presence at events like Medic West Africa contributes to this strategy," he adds. 

Reinforcing this need, Phoenix - like other large Brazilian companies - has already carried out deals with African countries, but not on an ongoing basis. “Our contact has evolved every year. We make occasional sales, but we need to grow and strengthen in this region,” says Fernando Porzani from the company’s exports and imports department. 

Silva, from Samtronic, thinks that strengthening their presence in these territories requires more than just building a good relationship with distributors. “Many sales on the continent are carried out by foreign companies that are starting to consolidate huge projects to build large hospitals, and are looking for suppliers around the world. We need to overcome this barrier to reach these groups,” he explains.

As a way of expanding the good trade relationship with Africa, Medpej believes that it is necessary to invest in trade agreements signed between the Brazilian government and African governments. “This way we will have more access to public bids, lower import tariffs, and greater ease in registering Brazilian products in local markets,” says Grisanti. 

At the regulatory level, local legislation is not so restrictive, but companies must be attentive to private standards, as some distributors require international certifications such as FDA and CE Marking. 

Brazil’s competitive advantages - Brazilian manufacturers can offer African markets much more than high-quality and cost-effective products. “We are talking about developing countries and we have to take into account that we must ensure well-designed technical support consisting of campaigns that, created with non-governmental organizations, institutes, and hospitals, work to select and include products that best meet the needs of these countries,” says Clovis Garcia, at Loktal.

As part of this concept of going beyond trade and working with governments to improve the health of the African population, Brazilian Health Devices will hold a workshop on October 9 entitled "Woman's Health: Preventing and Treating Cervical Cancer." The activity will bring a Brazilian physician, equipment and health care products to Nigeria to spread knowledge and contribute to reducing mortality from cervical cancer, which is responsible for the death of about 8,000 women a year in the country.


The Brazilian Health Devices Sectoral Project, executed by ABIMO in partnership with Apex-Brasil, has a mission of promoting exports by the health care articles and equipment industries. Brazilian Health Devices is the brand that brings together the sector's export industries and represents them internationally.


ABIMO (Brazilian Medical, Dental and Laboratories Devices Manufacturers Association) is the organization representing the Brazilian health devices industry and seeks to promote the sustainable growth of the sector in national and international markets.


The mission of the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex-Brasil) is to develop the competitiveness of Brazilian companies, promoting the internationalization of their businesses and attracting foreign direct investments. Apex-Brasil currently supports more than 15,000 companies from 80 productive sectors of the Brazilian economy, exporting to over 230 markets. The agency also coordinates efforts to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) to the country.

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