from PHYLLIS BIRORI in Kigali, Rwanda
KIGALI, (CAJ News) – RWANDA is to start manufacturing its own vaccines following a US$2 billion investment on a vaccine plant by Germany-headquartered Biopharmaceutical New Technologies (BioNTech).
The facility in the East African country’s capital, Kigali, is forecast to make Rwanda and the entire continent self-reliant through local production of disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment tools.
African and global leaders attended the launch on Monday.
Speaking at the ceremony, World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, said the BioNTech manufacturing facility would go a long way towards addressing much sought vaccine production challenges in the continent.
“This is a testament to the strides Africa is making towards self-reliance through local production of disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment tools,” Moeti said.
“Let’s seize this moment to reinforce our commitment to strengthening local manufacturing, innovation, and collaboration to achieve equitable access to life-saving vaccines, medicines and other health technologies,” she said.
Funding jointly came from the German Federal Government, European Union (EU), African Development Bank Group (AfDB) and Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).
Ursula von der Leyen, the European Union Commission President, lauded the establishment of the new BioNTech in the continent as a true success story.
“And above all, a story of teamwork. Together we will boost vaccines made in Africa, for the African people,” von der Leyen said.
Paul Kagame, Rwandan President, praised the vaccine plant, pointing out it would address vaccine scarcity in Rwanda and across the continent.
“We are very proud of the entire team from BioNTech_Group who have worked tirelessly to deliver this project. This facility is designed to be among the most advanced in the world,” Kagame said at the inauguration of the BioNTech mRNA vaccine manufacturing site.
The African Union Commission (AUC) said the mRNA vaccine manufacturing network in Africa would increase access while providing world-class quality of needed vaccines and other medicines to all African citizens.
“Working together to promote vaccine equity for Africa remains our priority,” said AUC chairman, Moussa Faki Mahamat.
He said the launch on Monday was also testament to the AU vision enshrined in the Partnership for African Vaccine Manufacturing platform set up in 2021 to ensure equitable access to quality healthcare services across the continent.
Mahamat pointed out the vaccine plant resonated with the spirit of Agenda 2063, where health is a fundamental human right.
“It echoes the dream of a unified Africa, trading not just goods, but knowledge, innovation, and healthcare solutions through the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA),” Mahamat said.
BioNTech is an internationally positioned company with its global headquarters in Mainz, Germany.
It develops and manufactures active immunotherapies for patient-specific approaches to the treatment of diseases.
– CAJ News