Global finance institution to support Rwanda’s vaccine manufacturing drive

Rwanda aims to produce high-quality vaccines for African market, says official

James Tasamba   | 03.09.2021
Global finance institution to support Rwanda’s vaccine manufacturing drive FILE PHOTO

KIGALI, Rwanda

The International Financial Cooperation (IFC) will support Rwanda to develop a vaccine manufacturing facility and contribute to expand vaccine production in Africa, said an official statement on Friday.

“The IFC will support Rwanda to conduct diagnostic and feasibility studies to ensure the right technical and policy frameworks needed to establish a world-class vaccine manufacturing supply chain in Rwanda are in place to produce vaccines for use in Rwanda and to export across Africa,” the Rwanda Development Board said.

“The partnership will focus on supporting Rwanda’s recently announced association with BioNTech, a leading biotechnology company, and the kENUP Foundation to explore establishing end-to-end manufacturing facility for mRNA vaccines.”

It added that under the collaboration other potential vaccine and pharmaceutical production facilities, including a fill-and-finish facility, are expected to be co-located with BioNTech in Kigali Special Economic Zone.

Samuel Dzotefe, an acting regional director for the IFC in the Middle East and Africa, said “a resilient Africa needs to develop and maintain its own reliable vaccine supply and health industry.”

“This partnership with the Rwanda Development Board is a vital step toward helping Africa build vaccine manufacturing facility to respond to COVID-19 and future pandemics,” said Dzotefe.

Zephanie Niyonkuru, the deputy chief executive of Rwanda Development Board, reaffirmed that the Central African country aims to produce high-quality vaccines for the African market.

“A production facility like the one envisaged in this collaboration agreement advances this objective. We are pleased to have the IFC as a strategic partner,” he said.

The announcement comes days after BioNTech agreed to evaluate the establishment of sustainable vaccine manufacturing facilities in Rwanda and Senegal to support vaccine supply to the continent.

Last week, at the invitation of the kENUP Foundation, presidents Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Macky Sall of Senegal, and European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen met Ugur Sahin, chief executive and co-founder of BioNTech in Berlin, where they discussed the development of sustainable vaccine production for Africa.

In a joint statement issued after the meeting, BioNTech affirmed its intention to manufacture mRNA vaccines arising from its malaria and tuberculosis vaccine development programs on the African continent.

Africa depends on other countries for 99% of its vaccine supply.

The African Union and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) aim to have 60% of Africa’s routine vaccines produced locally by 2040.

The Africa CDC has identified Rwanda, Senegal and South Africa as potential regional vaccine manufacturing hubs in Africa.

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