HARARE, -- An Indian pharmaceutical company, Ajanta Pharma, has announced that it will take over Zimbabwean drug manufacturing company CAPS Pharmaceutical, which is currently under management of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

Speaking to journalists after meeting acting Zimbabwean President Constantino Chiwenga here Thursday, the Indian firm's co-founder and vice chairman, Madhusudan Agrawal Ajanta, said the deal would see the revival of CAPS to enable it to export drugs like before.

Caps Pharmaceuticals is not in good shape; all the machinery is not working. Once upon a time this was a best company in Zimbabwe, exporting to many other countries in Africa. We decided we are going to sign the

letter of intent that our group will take over this company and change it with new machinery, new technology, to make Zimbabwe sufficient in pharmaceuticals," he said.

We will export drugs from here, said Agrawal, who stressed that in future, the company expected to set up a world class hospital and a medical training school in Zimbabwe.

As we go forward, we will also put up a world class hospital here. Many people will come from outside to be treated at that facility. We will also put up a medical college to train people to become doctors, he said.

The Indian company has been in the pharmaceutical business for over 45 years.

Health and Child Care Ministry permanent secretary Dr Gerald Gwinji said the deal would go a long way towards resuscitating the health sector, currently on its knees. It means we will have essential medicines placed right at the doorstep of our institutions," he added.

"We will be able to go round foreign currency issues and have the industry back to its feet again. Recall that a couple of years we could supply up to 80 per cent of what we needed but now we are down to about 5.0 per cent.

"With their coming, we know we can get back to that easily and therefore it will make provision of health services much easier."

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr John Mangudya said local production of medical drugs would reduce the nation's import bill by 400 million US dollars a year.

You are aware that Caps Pharmaceutical is currently under Zamco (an RBZ company) so it means once the investor comes, it removes the company under Zamco and it will run on commercial basis," he said.

Currently we spend about 400 million USD per year to import pharmaceuticals. We used to import 20 per cent but now we are importing 80 per cent of our requirements. Only 5.0 per cent is sourced locally. So we will be able to save foreign currency and the money goes to other businesses where it is required."