The Rwandan government has entered into an agreement with BioNTech, a Germany-based pharmaceutical company, that paves the way for establishing a vaccine manufacturing plant in Rwanda.
Rwandan health minister Daniel Ngamije and Ugur Sahin, CEO and co-founder of BioNTech, signed a memorandum of understanding on Tuesday that will initiate the construction of the first manufacturing site for mRNA-based vaccines in Rwanda in the middle of next year.
“The government of Rwanda is pleased to have signed this important agreement that will facilitate the establishment of the mRNA vaccine manufacturing plant in our country,” Ngamije said after signing the agreement in the Rwandan capital, Kigali.
Rwanda is happy to partner with BioNTech in the context of the pan-African strategy of the African Union and the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to produce vaccines end-to-end in Africa, he said.
The manufacturing of mRNA vaccine will contribute to the much needed vaccine equity in Africa, Ngamije said.
The plant, located in the Special Economic Zone in Gasabo District, Kigali, will be partly funded by the European Investment Bank, according to Ngamije.
The signing ceremony took place on the sideline of the Second Ministerial Meeting of the African Union and the European Union that opened on Monday in Kigali.
“I would like to thank all for the support and trust to establish the first mRNA manufacturing facility within Africa. Together, we will work on developing a regional manufacturing network to support the access to vaccines manufactured in Africa, for Africa,” said Sahin.
“Our goal is to develop vaccines in Africa and to establish sustainable vaccine production capabilities to jointly improve medical care in Africa,” the BioNTech CEO said. “We have made great progress in the past few weeks, which will help us on our way to turning these plans into reality.”
In a statement, BioNTech said that it has finalized the construction plans and ordered the assets, which will be delivered by mid-2022.
The manufacturing facility could become the first node in a decentralized and robust African end-to-end manufacturing network enabling an annual manufacturing capacity of several hundred million mRNA vaccine doses, it added.
BioNTech will initially staff, own, and operate the facility to support the safe and rapid initiation of the production of mRNA-based vaccine doses, it added.
“State-of-the-art facilities like this will be life-savers and game-changers for Africa and could lead to millions of cutting edge vaccines being made for Africans, by Africans in Africa,” World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti was quoted as saying in the statement. Enditem