updated 5:49 AM EDT, Fri March 15, 2013
(CNN) -- Major pharmaceutical companies are increasingly looking to harness Africa's opportunity, lured by an emerging middle class across the continent's growing urban centers.
Although the total size of the African market is still small compared to other global regions, analysts say that the continent's big cities hold the key to unlocking the industry's lucrative potential.
In such areas, increasing individual wealth, coupled with a stronger health system infrastructure and a rising demand for drugs treating chronic diseases, are driving demand for pharmaceuticals, say analysts.
"Urban centers have the highest concentration of the segments of the population that are more likely to be relatively wealthy, more likely to be educated and also possibly more likely to suffer from the chronic diseases of affluence that are becoming increasingly important in Africa," says Sarah Rickwood, director of Thought Leadership at IMS Health.
According to a recent IMS report, called "Africa: A ripe opportunity," pharmaceutical spending on the continent is expected to reach $30 billion in 2016, up from about $18 billion now. By 2020, the market could represent a $45 billion opportunity for drug makers, spurred in part by robust economic growth and demographic changes.
This can only be good news for people like Rudzani Modau, owner of Mangalani Pharmacy in Soweto, just outside Johannesburg in South Africa.
"The pharmaceutical business is growing and it will grow," says Modau. "It's the next big thing in Africa."
Modau says his profits have soared over the last decade. "We have a lot of potential in Africa," he adds.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Africa is home to 11% of the world's population, yet accounts for 24% of the global disease burden. Read More