Abraaj Group Plans To Transplant Private Health Care In Africa

Written by Kevin Mwanza

The Abraaj Group, a United Arab Emirates (UAE) based private-equity investment firm, is seeking to invest in Kenya’s growing healthcare market and use it as a launching pad to build a network of hospitals to offer decent and affordable medical services in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Dubai-based group is in talks to acquire Metropolitan Hospital and other healthcare centers in the capital of East Africa’s biggest economy as part of its $ 1 billion expansion plan into Asian and African markets to capitalize on the growing middle class.

The two continents have the world’s fastest growing middle class, with Africa leading the way with 313 million people, according to data from the African Development Bank.

Rising cases of lifestyle related ailments such as diabetes, heart diseases and obesity, which are driven by unhealthier diets amongst the growing middle class, is attracting investors into the African healthcare industry.

More than 400 million people living in sub-Saharan Africa lack access to accessible and affordable health services largely due to high levels of poverty on the continent.

“Nairobi is a sweet spot for us. There is a big population that is growing. You have emerging middle incomes. And there is a massive need for healthcare,” Khawar Mann, the Managing Director and Head of Healthcare at Abraaj Group, told New York Times.

The investment group, alongside the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Africa Health Fund (AHF), are also funding three doctors to build Iso Health Limited, a $17.7 million hospital in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, Business Daily reported.

Abraaj Group also owns stakes in Avenue Hospital and Nairobi Women’s Hospital in the Kenyan capital.

The private-equity firm invested $145 million in the Tunisian and Egyptian healthcare sectors last year. It has plans to invest in Nigeria, the continent’s biggest economy and Ethiopia, the fastest growing economy in Africa, Bloomberg reported.

The Abraaj Group has major investments in India, one of the leading nations in the world in medical tourism due to its low-cost of specialized treatment compared to European and American nations.

In January, it acquired majority share of 72 percent in CARE Hospitals, the fifth-biggest healthcare services provider in the Asian nation, Economic Times reported.