Rwanda partners with IFC to develop vaccine manufacturing capacity

Vaccine. CFP Image

Rwanda Development Board (RDB) said Friday that it had signed a collaboration agreement with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to facilitate development of vaccine manufacturing capacity in the country, and contribute to expansion of its production in Africa.

The development comes days after Rwanda announced its association with BioNTech, a leading biotechnology company, and the kENUP Foundation to explore establishing end-to-end manufacturing capability for mRNA vaccines, arising from the company’s Malaria and Tuberculosis vaccine development programs on the continent.

In a statement on Friday, RDB said IFC will support Rwanda to conduct diagnostic and feasibility studies to ensure the right technical and policy frameworks needed to establish a world-class vaccine manufacturing supply chain in Rwanda to produce vaccines for local use and exports across Africa.

“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,” Zephanie Niyonkuru, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the RDB said in the statement.

Samuel Dzotefe, IFC’s Acting Regional Industry Director for Manufacturing, Agribusiness and Services in the Middle East and Africa, observed that 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,” said Dzotefe.

Other potential vaccine and pharmaceutical production facilities, including a fill-and-finish facility, are expected to be co-located with BioNTech in Kigali’s Special Economic Zone, according to the statement.

The African Union and the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are aiming to have about 60 percent of Africa’s routine vaccines produced locally by 2040.