The ground-breaking event of BioNTech Group vaccine manufacturing facility, based on BioNTainer modular system was attended by different dignitaries including the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo; the CEO of BioNTech, Prof Dr Uğur Şahin; the Chairperson of African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat; the Director General of World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Senegalese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Aïssata Tall Sall among others.
President Kagame has said that the ground-breaking event is a great milestone leading to vaccine equity.
“This groundbreaking is really a historic milestone towards vaccine equity. Rwanda intends to build on this investment by putting in place the conditions to attract other manufacturers and innovators,” he said.
““Rwanda fully supports BioNTech’s commitment to power this factory entirely with green energy, and we will work together closely to achieve that. Vaccine manufacturing requires advanced regulatory capability as well as a highly-skilled human capital. I am happy to announce that the cabinet has approved the establishment of the African Biomanufacturing Institute,” Kagame added.
The Head of State highlighted that the institute ‘will provide training and qualification for this industry’.
“Working together with different universities and training providers as well as private sector partners like BioNTech, this innovative institution will provide solution for workforce development from short courses through to graduate degrees,” he noted.
The President also disclosed that Rwanda Food and Drugs Authority (Rwanda FDA) has signed a twinning agreement with the European Union.
“Through a consortium led by France, Germany and Belgium; our regulatory capacity will gain expertize and support from these partner agencies,” he said.
The CEO of BioNTech, Prof Uğur Şahin has explained that they want to enter first clinical trial of Malaria and Tuberculosis vaccines by the end of this year and beginning next year.
“It is clear to us that this potential future vaccines among other life-saving medicines must be produced in Africa, for Africa,” he said.
Prof Uğur Şahin further revealed that the company wants to launch state-of-the art mRNA vaccine factory for the production of vaccines in about 18 months.
He underscored that the vaccines to be manufactured will help to be better prepared for possible future pandemics.
Africa seeks to manufacture 60% of needed vaccines in 20 years from the current 1 percent.