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Rwanda: EU boosts Rwanda’s bid to manufacture vaccines

Emmanuel Ntirenganya 

Rwanda has signed a Rwf3.6 billion agreement with the European Union (EU) to enhance the attractiveness of Rwanda for investments in vaccine manufacturing, a statement from Rwanda Development Board (RDB) says.

According to the statement, this financing agreement signed between the EU and RDB on Wednesday, June 30 is in line with promoting the country’s medical tourism.

The agreement, it said, will strengthen the capacity of the Rwanda Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) which is key to enhancing the country’s attractiveness for investments in vaccine manufacturing.

Rwanda has been announced as one of the hubs for vaccine manufacturing in Africa, besides Nigeria and South Africa.

In May, President Paul Kagame said that “in the context of developing hubs for manufacturing the vaccines in our continent, Rwanda is in advanced talks with private firms and multilateral agencies to build manufacturing capacity in our region for the raw materials to produce mRNA vaccines.”

Kagame was speaking at the virtual Global Health Summit, co-chaired by Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and President of the European Union Commission Ursula von der Leyen. The Summit focused on how to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.

Jutta Urpilainen, European Commissioner for International Partnerships said that the agreement to increase the capacity of Rwanda FDA is key to improving access to medicines.

“This is an important step in supporting local manufacturing of health products in Africa. As announced by President of [the European Union Commission] von der Leyen, Team Europe will continue to support this country and Africa in strengthening the regulatory framework and attracting investment in the pharmaceutical sector,” she said.

The Minister of Health, Dr. Daniel Ngamije said the European Union is a central partner in our efforts to bridge the gap in vaccine equity in Africa by building pharmaceutical production capacity.

“Upgrading Rwanda’s regulatory capabilities to the required international standards, is a critical step on our journey to vaccine manufacturing,” he remarked.

Commenting on the development, Clare Akamanzi, CEO of RDB said access to vaccines is critical especially for Africa where only 1 percent of vaccines are manufactured on the continent.

“This agreement boosts Rwanda’s efforts to build a vaccine and pharmaceutical manufacturing ecosystem to contribute to the health security of the region and continent,” she observed.

The development will help the Rwanda FDA to establish a strong quality control laboratory for the medical products and supply new equipment for an integrated information management system.

This will help the body in achieving the required level of certification by the World Health Organization (WHO) to be able to fully play its role to ensure the safety, efficacy, and quality of vaccines and pharmaceutical products.

The agreement is part of a comprehensive medium-term #TeamEurope support to bring the Authority’s laboratory, technical and organizational capacity to high levels of performance.

As part of the effort, the EU Delegation will also seek to facilitate a peer-to-peer partnership between the Rwanda FDA and the national regulatory authorities from EU Member States.

The statement indicated that the EU and the European Investment Bank are in discussions to partner with the Government of Rwanda to facilitate and promote investment by pharmaceutical and biotech companies in the country, including exploring opportunities for co-financing and de-risking potential investments.

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