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Drug manufacturing plant launched in Africa

Rwanda made concrete its project to build the first messenger RNA vaccine manufacturing plant in Africa on June 23, 2022. The Rwandan president, in the presence of several personalities including the director general of the World Health Organization and the chairperson of the African Union Commission, launched the construction of the plant which will produce vaccines against malaria, tuberculosis and covid-19.

Africa’s first messenger RNA drug and vaccine manufacturing plant will be built in 18 months in Kigali, Rwanda. The launch of the construction of this plant was done on June 23, 2022 by President Paul Kagame in the presence of the Director General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat. According to the Rwandan authorities, the factory will produce vaccines against malaria, tuberculosis and covid-19, all of which are responsible for mortality on the African continent. At the same time, a biopharmaceutical school will be set up from which professionals will be trained for the industry.

This groundbreaking is really a historic milestone toward vaccine equity. The land we are standing on is dedicated to Biopharma manufacturing. I am happy to announce that cabinet has approved the establishment of  the African biomanufacturing institute which will provide training and qualifications for this industry.

Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda

The project to build this plant is part of a broad vision to equip the continent with several structures of the same caliber in order to empower Africa in terms of access to medicines and other vaccines. Other factories will soon be built in Senegal, South Africa and Ghana. The African Union’s goal is to provide at least 60% of the vaccines used on the continent with its own capacity by 2040.

The Partnership for African Vaccine Manufacturing launched by the African Union in 2021 set Africa on a course to end our Continent’s dependence on imported vaccines.  I therefore want to commend the countries working with BioNTech: Ghana, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa for moving quickly to create a viable framework for the end-to-end production of mRNA vaccines in Africa.

Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission

To carry out this operation, cooperation with donors was necessary: the European Union, the European Investment Bank and the World Health Organization have made their contributions. A cooperation welcomed by Aïssa Tall, for whom, the realization of this project is the witness of the will of the African leaders to bring to their populations the comfort and the conditions necessary to their blooming, the development.

What we are doing this morning is not medicine or research. What we are doing is dedicating ourselves to the purpose of all political action. That is, to satisfy the basic needs of people. The most difficult thing, Mr. President, was to make the commitment and to have the political courage to say that for once, Africa, by world standards, will manufacture its vaccines on its territory. 

Aïssata TALL SALL, Minister of Foreign Affairs Senegal

The implementation of this plant is part of the African Union’s « Vaccine Equity for Africa » project, a broad-based African ambition that will provide easier access to medicines for millions of Africans. Despite the supply of COVID-19 vaccine, Africa still lags behind in terms of immunization with less than 20% of people fully vaccinated on the continent according to the World Health Organization.