Ask Our Client: Working with China to end AIDs in Africa? Why?

 In interview

Today marks the annual ‘World AIDS Day’, and therefore also marks a perfect time to reflect on a series of projects that Development Reimagined delivered for UNAIDS China this year in a bid to break down silos and facilitate catalytic partnerships. We sat down with our client who had the vision to make these projects a reality: Amakobe Sande – UNAIDS China Country Director – to understand her experience of the projects, and what they mean for China-Africa health cooperation… 

  • Ms Sande, when we first started working with you this year, the first project you commissioned was to provide Investment Profiles of the Health Markets of 21 African Countries. Why?

The need was clear. 47% of people in African countries still do not have access to essential and good quality medicines, and populations are continuing to grow. Currently, Africa imports 70% of its pharmaceutical products, and only 34 of the 55 African countries possess some level of pharmaceutical production. This affects access to affordable and high quality HIV drugs as much as it does other types of health products, and it is unsustainable, particularly in the context of high trade deficits (and therefore forex problems) and demand for local jobs. Many African countries are therefore increasingly committed to creating and nurturing well-functioning pharmaceutical industries, and providing essential medicines to their own growing populations as part of those plans.  There is therefore an opportunity for Chinese companies, with government support, to relocate their pharmaceutical manufacturing to African countries, not only providing cheaper but high-quality drugs but also jobs, technology and skills transfer. However, there is an information gap and many Chinese investors are not at all aware of the landscape of Pharmaceutical manufacturing opportunities in Africa. There are literally a handful of Chinese companies actually manufacturing in African countries. So the aim for the country profiles, which will be launched in China in just a few days – December 4th – was to bridge this gap.

  • We’re excited for its launch. The report will be available in both English and Chinese, and it will hopefully provide critical and persuasive information to Chinese companies and others to get them started on their journey to manufacture in African countries. What about the second, related project that we worked on with you, the ‘Orientation on Access to Medicines & Local production’ project. What goals did you hope would be achieved?

Nothing beats human to human interactions and connections. UNAIDS alongside our partners – Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and China International Health Exchange and Cooperation Center, National Health Commission (IHECC) – wanted to provide a platform to support African leaders and healthcare stakeholders who are keen to leverage the “China Opportunity” to drive local production in their Pharmaceuticals industry, and increase access to high-quality medicines. We wanted to connect these African stakeholders with Chinese health industry stakeholders – financiers, pharmaceutical companies, regulators and more. We believed that facilitating such connections would enable the African stakeholders drive towards their goal with increased focus and access. In addition, we thought it would be important for them to have a first-hand experience of how China has developed its pharmaceutical industry.

  • What was your impression of the work that we delivered?

Development Reimagined exceeded my expectations! Let’s start with the Orientation:

  • It was facilitated so professionally. Everything from invitation and visa letters to the steering of the sessions was handled so smoothly. For example, each participant received very detailed and professional welcome packs and logistical notes that helped provide them important information to help them maximize the Orientation;
  • Thanks to DR’s unique suggestion of using Chatham House rules the participants spoke candidly and in-depth, and it led to very productive sessions. DR was able to encourage the participants to engage with one another and develop action plans and it was refreshing to see that level of engagement.
  • The report that was produced on the Orientation was phenomenally put together. It was done within 4 days of the meeting and was full of substantive and useful takeaways that helped provide participants with actionable recommendations and summaries that they could report back on. This was one of the first times I didn’t have to ask for an entire overhaul of a report – and believe me that is an achievement!
  • The team was also incredibly committed, and put in more hours than they had budgeted for and had been contracted to deliver.

Overall it was truly impressive. The same can be said of the work that was delivered on the 21 Country profiles. The DR team did their research diligently, engaged in several back and forth discussions with us on cover design, graphic design for each country page and were accommodating to our very specific requests from the office here as well as in Geneva – many of which, went above the original scope of work.

  • What were key takeaways from both projects?

Look, although the intent for strong and win-win partnership between China and African stakeholder, the reality is that implementation is constrained by knowledge gaps and misalignment. For example, it was clear from the orientation that:

  • there is a mismatch between financing needs and the type of financing available
  • Chinese outbound investment is constrained by limited market knowledge of the African continent.
  • African parties have limited knowledge of how to leverage China’s health commitments or resources.

This only strengthens my belief that such projects are truly valuable. In fact, one of the recommendations coming out of the orientation was for all relevant stakeholders – UNAIDS, Gates, IHECC, and the AU to convene a follow-up orientation but bringing in even more private and industrial sector representatives who can form the basis of strong local partnerships with Chinese companies.

  • Are there any exciting projects or partnerships that came out of the Orientation?

Yes, indeed there are! During the orientation itself some of the delegates formed parternships and signed MoUs. Building on the success of this orientation, we also hope to do another next year for some of the French and Portuguese speaking countries on the continent, and we will also be incorporating a China-Africa health partnerships session during the NEPAD Africa Pharma Meeting that will be held early in 2019.

  • Going forward what do you think actors involved in the Africa-China health space should do next?

There are three main actors to consider – African country governments, Chinese stakeholders, and international actors like the African Union, UN or Gates Foundation, for example. African countries need to urgently develop sector strategies for pharmaceutical manufacturing and undertake competitiveness advantage or bottleneck studies for pharmaceutical investment by Chinese Companies and develop roadmaps to address those bottlenecks. Not every African country is well-suited for local pharmaceutical manufacturing or every kind of it -. determining competitive advantages is thus key! For Chinese stakeholders, there is a need to boost regulation of drugs to help African countries overcome issues with sub-standard or falsified drugs. And for the African Union, I believe a main priority should be to secure technical assistance to complete modalities for the creation of a “Fund for Africa Pharmaceutical Development” that they can appropriately pitch to Chinese stakeholders to raise investment. For other actors such as the UN, we should continue to provide information for both Chinese and African stakeholders and sponsor more of such orientations/summits and analysis. 

  • For clients considering engaging DR, what three-words would you use to sum-up DR?

Innovative. Responsive. Results-focused.

Thank you so much for your time, Ms. Sande. UNAIDS has been a pleasure to work with and we look forward to working with UNAIDS again.

Amakobe Sande is the UNAIDS Country Director and Representative in the People’s Republic of China.

Recommended Posts

Leave a Comment

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

验证码不清楚,请更换一张 captcha txt


Research Analyst

Edmond is a research analyst who is passionate about sustainable development, innovation, and the environment. Passionate about climate financing, he firmly believe there is a more reliable system to promote equality, growth, and welfare in societies without affecting the ecosystem. Through his skills, knowledge and experienced gained over 7 years, he wants to make an impact in the world of development. Edmond holds a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Korea Development Institute and a BA Degree (Honors) in Business from University of Derby.


    Founder and CEO

Hannah Ryder is the Founder & CEO of Development Reimagined. A former diplomat and economist with 20 years of experience, named one of 100 most influential Africans in 2021, she is also Senior Associate for the Africa Program of the Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS), sits on the Board of the Environmental Defence Fund, and is a member of UAE's International Advisory Council on the New Economy. Prior to her role at DR, Ms Ryder led the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s work with China to help it scale up and improve its cooperation with other developing countries, including in Africa. She has also played various advisory roles for the UN and OECD and co-authored the seminal Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change in 2006.


Deputy Director

Leah Lynch is Deputy Director of Development Reimagined (DR), and head of the China office. Leah has over 10 years of experience in development and has lived in China for over 8 years. Leah has also travelled extensively around Asia and Africa for research. Leah supports the strategic direction of the team across China, with a mission to deliver high quality research on sustainable development and poverty reduction. Leah is also Chair of the Sustainability Forum at the British Chamber of Commerce in China, providing direction on sustainability initiatives for British and Chinese business. Leah has also consulted on various evaluations on UK aid (ICAI) and is a specialist on development cooperation from the UK and China. Leah has also consulted on various UN projects, including providing support to the UN China team during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Prior to DR, Leah was at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) China, supporting the UN’s portfolio on communication strategies, China’s South- South Cooperation and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Before UNDP, Leah lived and worked in Kenya developing sustainable water policies for the Kenyan government.


China-Africa Policy Analyst

Yike Fu is a Policy Analyst and has been responsible for leading numerous areas of work, including on debt analysis in Africa and beyond, and China-Africa trade and investment logistics and analysis. She is the co-author of “African Debt Guide”, in which she challenged the narrative that Africa is in the midst of a new debt crisis by analysing data back to the 1970s and adopting new metrics to present the real story behind the data. She also developed a benchmark to compare the financial distribution of development partners such as the UK, US, Japan, France and China in Africa. Prior to her role at DR she worked at the International Finance Corporation and African Union Representational Mission to the US. She holds a Masters in International Affairs from George Washington University.


Research Analyst

Judith is a Research and Policy Analyst, where she specialises in Africa-China relations, international development, and diplomacy. During her time at Development Reimagined, Judith has co-authored several articles published in The Diplomat on debt and China-Barbados relations and was quoted by China Daily in a piece on Women Rights in China. Previously, Judith worked as a research analyst for an Advocate and Commissioner and Oats office in Kenya.


Policy Analyst

Ovigwe specialises in geopolitics with particular reference to Africa in a changing Global Order. He is adept at critically analysing the politics of contemporary development processes and providing insight into the geopolitical interests that influence them. His work includes research, publications, tailored briefings and advising on global and regional trends, and issues at the nexus of geopolitics and development. Ovigwe appears frequently in media around the world such as Al Jazeera, TRT World, SABC, CGTN, BBC Radio, and other platforms.


Policy Analyst

Jing leads China-African health and agriculture cooperation research at Development Reimagined, having managed our FOCAC Policy Analysis and Advocacy project. She is also the co-author of “China-Africa Health Cooperation under FOCAC Umbrella”, in which she analysed China’s commitments around health cooperation since the first FOCAC summit and deepdived into four African countries’ health overview, challenges and cooperation with China as cases studies. Before DR, Jing worked at GIZ Cambodia on M&E of a disability advocacy project. She also worked as a translator with Chinese medical team in Benin.


Trade Policy Analyst

Patrick is an International Trade Policy and Trade Law Expert with over 5 years of experience. His expertise includes trade law, trade policy analysis and regional integration. He is currently engaged with Development Reimagined as a Senior Trade Analyst and was the lead author of Development Reimagined's recent Report on Africa-China Relations titled "From China-Africa to Africa- China: A Blue Print for a Green and Inclusive Continent-Wide Strategy Towards China." and “Reimaging FOCAC Going Forward.” Patrick has previously consulted for the East African Community, UNECA and for the Kenya Ministry of Trade.


Senior Policy Analyst 

Rosemary is our Senior Policy Analyst. She is a skilled policy analyst and has previously worked as a UK civil servant. She is studying Human Rights at Birkbeck, University of London with a research focus on international law in the context of health crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic.


Project Manager and Africa-China Communication Assistant

Jade is a Project Manager for Development Reimagined’s flagship project Africa Unconstrained, which focuses on financing needs and debt vulnerabilities of African countries. Her research focuses on China-Africa development finance alongside debt vulnerabilities, infrastructure needs and South-South cooperation. She has worked with a breadth of stakeholders from China, Africa and the wider international community, including governments, private sector, NGOs and civil society. Her writing has appeared in a number of publications, including The Africa Report, The China-Africa Project, The Diplomat and more. Jade holds a Master’s in China and Globalisation studies from King’s College London.


Programme Manager

Rosie is the Project Manager of Africa Reimagined (AR) at Development Reimagined (DR) where she supports high-end African brands with entering the Chinese market by operating services such as trademark protection, Chinese market research, Chinese partnership building, and Africa to China logistical support and import/export services. Rosie has worked with DR for over two years now with proven success in helping high-end African brands navigate the Chinese market. She is extremely passionate about her work because more African brands selling in the Chinese marketplace means African countries can export MORE value-added goods, create MORE jobs and foster MORE innovation in African countries.

Rosie is also alumni of the School of International Studies at Peking University in Beijing where she is also an editor at the Peking Africa Think Tank. PATT is led by a diverse group of scholars who specialise in African Studies within the context of Sino-Africa relations.



Lauren has lived in six countries from the Americas to Europe and Asia and speaks both French and Spanish proficiently. At Development Reimagined, Lauren’s research focuses on climate action both in the Asia-Pacific and in Africa, and how countries are using tools such as SDGs and Covid-19 action to build a more climate-resilient future. She holds a Masters in International Relations from Leiden University.



Etsehiwot holds a Masters’s degree in Development Studies from the London School of Economics. She has diverse experience in humanitarian and development issues by working in both multilateral organizations and international non-governmental organizations. Etsehiwot is currently a consultant focusing on the SDGs and development finance.


Economist Consultant

Dibekulu is an economist by training. He holds an MSc in International Development Studies from Palacky University Olomouc, an MSc in Development Economics from the University of Clermont Auvergne, and an MSc in Economics, Finance, and International Integration from the University of Pavia. At Development Reimagined, he works as an Economist consultant. He has strong data analysis skills, with research interests centring around development finance, impact assessment, food security, and agricultural insurance.


Project Manager

Osaru is a health professional with an MSc in Health Systems Policy and an interest in women’s health and population management. At Development Reimagined, she applies her health sector experience to global health research and collating locally applicable development insights from China.


Research Analyst

Ferdinando’s research at Development Reimagined is centred on South-South Cooperation dynamics, specifically on the analysis of Chinese investment and debt flows in Africa and their linkages to African industrialisation. He is currently a Yenching Scholar at Peking University, after having graduated from the University of Cambridge with an MPhil in Development Studies.


Research Analyst

David is a Research and data analyst at Development Reimagined. His scholarly focus is mostly on interdisciplinary research in demographic economics and development with interests in migration, economic development and policy, education, health and subjective well-being. He is currently a PhD scholar at Nelson Mandela University from which he also holds Economics and Statistics and respectively.


Research Analyst Kenya

Ivory is a Kenyan lawyer with experience in policy research and analysis. She also supports the communications team at DR. Ivory speaks English, Swahili and French.


Research And Data Analyst China 

Joy Ene is a Research and Data Analyst at DR. Joy is passionate about African/global development, poverty eradication and trade policies between underdeveloped and developing countries. She is also a fourth-year student of International Economics and Trade at the  Liaoning University, Shenyang, China. She serves as the President of the Student Union, Liaoning University, International Students chapter.


Research Analyst 

Chensi Li is a research analyst. She has previously worked for local NGOs in Nigeria and Cameroon and think-tanks in China.  Her research areas include Sino-African relations, African foreign affairs, public diplomacy, state-building and national governance.

Yixin Yu

Research Analyst 

Yixin is a Junior Research Analyst and her focus areas is on public-private partnership and entrepreneurship. She has over three years of working experience in both private and public sectors in Ethiopia. She was the China Liaison Officer for project ‘Partnership for Investment and Growth in Africa’ at International Trade Centre, where she accumulated rich experience in investment and trade promotion


Founder and CEO

Hannah Ryder is the Founder & CEO of Development Reimagined. A former diplomat and economist with 20 years of experience, named one of 100 most influential Africans in 2021, she is also Senior Associate for the Africa Program of the Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS), sits on the Board of the Environmental Defence Fund, and is a member of UAE's International Advisory Council on the New Economy. Prior to her role at DR, Ms Ryder led the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s work with China to help it scale up and improve its cooperation with other developing countries, including in Africa. She has also played various advisory roles for the UN and OECD and co-authored the seminal Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change in 2006.