Business opportunity
Market area:

Innovative solutions for the South African health care sector

The South African health care sector continues to exhibit significant growth rates and provide lucrative business opportunities. Demographic factors and the disease environment are putting increasing pressure on public health care provision, while the high-quality private operators are facing higher costs.

The government is taking action to enhance delivery of public health services, and has earmarked €3bn for health research and innovation. In this regard, public-private partnerships (PPPs) are being encouraged to a greater extent than before. There appears to be an immediate need for integrated digital systems and management solutions that improve efficiency. At the same time, the private medical insurance companies are seeking to reduce costs and incentivise their clients to adapt a healthier lifestyle.

The dual market for health services

The private sector offers services of world-class quality. Around 17% of South African are covered by medical insurance, which gives them access to private health services. On aggregate, the private health expenditure (€12bn) has already surpassed spending on public health (€11,5bn). Studies show that the private expenditure is projected to grow at a rate of 8% during 2018-2020.

On the other hand, the vast majority of South Africans rely on public health services, which are characterised by an inefficient use of resources. Due to rapid population growth, public hospitals and clinics are struggling to provide adequate care for their clients. Currently, the biggest hospitals are already serving large volumes, up to 41 000 walk-ins per day. Customer satisfaction rates are low, and because of faulty practices, chronic conditions are often being poorly treated.

Potential offerings

Based on interaction with local stakeholders, Finpro South Africa has identified an increasing demand for innovative health care solutions. In particular, there are opportunities in the following fields:

  • integration of data systems, smart medicine (e.g. biometric recognition, social security numbering system, medical records, chronic medicine distribution & packaging, management of medical grants)
  • diagnostic testing applications
  • technological solutions that facilitate a healthier lifestyle and record health data
  • disease management (especially diabetes, allergies)
  • training for health professionals (hospital management, post-basic training, degrees in nursing education)
  • cost-reducing solutions (facility management, development of best practices, integration of organisational levels, verification of efficiency)
  • nutritional products, including healthy snacks and anti-inflammatory foods

With their pioneering technical expertise, Finnish companies are in a good position to tap into this potential. Further, South Africa provides a promising gateway to the growing markets elsewhere in Sub-Saharan Africa, where rapid rates of population growth and urbanisation will induce demand for similar services in future.

Upcoming events

Join the South Africa business opportunity webinar on January 25th (registration) to learn how Finnish companies can improve health by co-operating with:

  • Discovery Health (South African health insurance company) - wellness programme, dispensary, disease management program, integrated systems

  • Netcare (one of South African largest private service provider) – nursing education, integrated systems, hospital management, equipment

  • Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital – hospital management, disease management, technological solutions that facilitate a healthier lifestyle and record health data

  • City of Johannesburg - technological solutions that facilitate a healthier lifestyle, nursing education and record health data

  • Health Systems Trust - medical records, chronic medicine distribution & packaging and the management of medical grants

  • National Department of Health - , social security numbering system, record health data

Read more

Register here by January 23rd.for the South Africa business opportunity webinar on January 25th (9:00-10:00 or 15:00-16:00 FIN time) and learn more about this opportunity! 

Team Finland Visit to South Africa will be led by Mr. Kai Mykkänen, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development of Finland will take place on March 14-16, 2018.


The South African health industry has been growing at robust rates in the recent years, and forecasts show that this trend will continue in the future. The health expenditure is divided between the high-quality private sector, which caters for 17% of the population and the highly skilled overburdened public sector that serves the vast majority of South Africans. In recent years, private health spending (€13 billion) has outstripped public spending (€12 billion).


More information on the Team Finland visit to South Africa here.


Africa Health takes place from 29 – 31 May 2018 at Gallagher Convention Centre, Johannesburg, and will attract more than 10,100 healthcare professionals and host over 553 leading international and regional healthcare and pharmaceutical suppliers, manufacturers and service providers. More information here.


South African Senior Advisor: Inês Cerqueira Mendes will be in Helsinki on the 8th of 9th of February. She is available for meetings. Please contact her and book your meeting and gain valuable information on the South Africa health opportunities!


For further information about the opportunity, please contact:
Inês Cerqueira Mendes
Senior Advisor

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