RWANDA – Rwanda has joined forces with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to develop the nation’s capacity to produce essential vaccines for the African continent.
IFC will assist the fast-developing nation to conduct diagnostic and feasibility studies needed to create a world-class vaccine manufacturing supply chain in Rwanda.
Rwanda recently revealed its partnership with the leading biotechnology company, BioNTech, and the kENUP Foundation to develop a holistic manufacturing capability for mRNA vaccines.
The partnership will also lead to the creation of facilities for the production of other vaccines and pharmaceutical products in Rwanda’s Special Economic Zones.
“Africa depends on other countries for 99 percent of its vaccine supply,” says IFC on its website. The AU and the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) aims to have 60% of Africa’s routine vaccines produced locally by 2040.
Rwanda, Senegal, and South Africa are some of the countries that have been identified as potential regional vaccine manufacturing hubs in Africa, by the Africa CDC.
“Rwanda 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 IFC as a strategic partner,” said Zephanie Niyonkuru, Deputy CEO of the Rwanda Development Board (RDB).
Samuel Dzotefe, IFC’s Acting Regional Industry Director for Manufacturing, Agribusiness and Services 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 capacity to respond to COVID-19 and future pandemics.”
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.