Every year, Nigerians spend about $1 billion seeking medical treatment abroad. From celebrity childbirths to businessmen/politicians seeking cure/checkups for one ailment or another, hospitals in India, Israel and the UK play host to thousands of middle and high-income Nigerians.
Even though these patients have the money to meet their medical needs in the most sophisticated hospitals, they must endure grueling visa application processes and immigration formalities. Could this be addressed? We think so.
But Nigerians are not alone in this. Citizens of other West African countries consistently travel to the above countries as well as to France (especially from Francophone West African countries) to seek advanced medical care. They also face huge direct/indirect cost.
While these capital outflows have enormous macroeconomic consequences for the affected countries, the quality health care deficit also presents an opportunity for bold investors. Investment in a well-resourced advanced care facility in any major Nigerian city stands to tap into this $1 billion opportunity.
In addition, since citizens of West African countries travel freely between member states (thanks to the 90-day visa-free regime), we expect patients from nearby West African countries to cash in on the opportunity for quality health care closer to home. Patients from neighboring central African countries including Cameroon, Chad, and Gabon would further increase patient inflow.
Notwithstanding the opportunity, we expect a number of challenges. Foremost, most medical specialists lack the financial expertise and resources to take on such huge business ventures. This could be mitigated by seeking the capital-raising expertise of investment firms. Furthermore, there is the need to develop a convincing marketing campaign to assure patients of the high-quality of medical care at the facility notwithstanding its location in Nigeria or in any other West African country. This is also achievable. If these problems are properly addressed, we expect the first set of investors to cash in on their bold move.
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