Nigeria 2019 | HEALTH | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Lekan Asuni, CEO of Lefas Pharmaceuticals on Health sector.

Lekan Asuni holds a bachelor of pharmacy degree from University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), Ile-Ife, Nigeria and a master of business administration. He is an alumnus of Ashridge Business SchooL. He is currently the managing director and CEO of LEFAS Group, Consultancy Services and Commercial Operations, based in Nigeria. Prior to this, he was managing director, GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceutical Nigeria/Anglophone West Africa, between 2008 and 2016. In this role, he was responsible for development of strategic plan to advance the company's mission and objectives and to promote revenue, profitability, and growth.

You worked at GSK for many years. What drove you to establish your own company?

I decided to operate outside of the multinationals space as I saw a number of opportunities beyond what multinationals consider priority in this clime at this moment. My partner and I decided to come together to fill some of those gaps. There are massive gaps in the pharmaceutical industry in terms of capacity, local manufacturing capabilities, the types of products being locally manufactured, and the human capability. It was time to try to put my expertise beyond multinational companies to see how it could benefit the entire industry. We are currently looking at pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and vaccines.

What ambitions do you have about expanding beyond the Nigerian borders?

We are into cardio metabolic, which is related to things like diabetes. We have positioned it to go beyond the shores of Nigeria. Nigeria today accounts for close to 25% of the population in sub-Saharan Africa. Therefore, if we have a business proposition that can be successful in Nigeria, it is easier to increase our capacity and serve other African countries. For some of these projects Nigeria will serve as a hub for Africa.

What is your outlook for 2019?

2019 will be a year when big things can happen. This will be through our special purpose investment vehicles, which we will ensure become a reality. For us, the motivation is not the return on investment; we want to prove the point that some things can be done differently in the healthcare and pharmaceutical space within Nigeria and Africa. We want to ensure that we tie into the government's vision of making Nigeria self-sufficient, which we will do in terms of medicine production, and we have a clear roadmap toward this goal.