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Rwanda, Barbados Agree To Tap Into Pharmaceutical Industry

5 Min Read

Rwanda and Barbados have agreed to look into possibilities of jointly investing in the unexploited pharmaceutical industry in Africa and the Caribbean.

President Paul Kagame, while hosting Barbados’ Premier Mia Amor Mottley in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, said that the Covid-19 pandemic reminded us that economic prosperity means nothing without putting health at the center.

“So, one area we have found we are able to cooperate productively is pharmaceutical manufacturing,” Kagame told the press gathering.

“We are both small countries, but with a big vision to elevate the standards and quality of life of our people, working with other countries in our regions,” Kagame said while addressing the press.

Kagame understands that the pharmaceutical industry is complex, “but it is indeed possible for countries like ours to be part of it. Thanks to new technologies and partners. The important thing is to share knowledge and cooperate with partners and we intend just to do that.”

On her part, Mia Amor Mottley, a pragmatic leader who was her three dat official visit to smoothen the relationship between Rwanda and Barbados, described the mutual interests in the pharmacy industry as a game changer for both countries.

“This pharmaceutical equity is a game changer, it is a game changer for you in Rwanda and you have led the way and we believe we too can follow in this respect,” she said.

 “I make this point every time that we have over 6,000 who graduated in sciences from the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies and well, teaching is one of the noble professions and it is not the only profession that our graduates can go into after completing a science degree,” she added, reflecting on the need for cooperation between the two countries in technology.

PM Mottley also echoed the same sentiments recognizing that the process might be complex but expressed the willingness towards achieving shared interests between Rwanda and Barbados.

“That is a critical component of the business for our pharmaceutical manufacturing and it is not an easy process. It is a very complex process. I am happy that the president has been willing to share that process and to allow us to do for Caribbean and Latin America what here is doing for Africa,” she added.

“But is not only vaccines that we are looking at, it is the mRNA technology that will allow us also to deal with oncology. Cancer is one of the biggest killers in our world today, and regrettably many of the modern drugs that north Atlantic countries have access to, our people do not have access to,” she said.

Rwanda has already began the process with BioNTech, a German biotechnology company based in Mainz that develops and manufactures active immunotherapies for patient-specific approaches to the treatment of diseases.

Rwanda has already initiated construction of its first vaccine production facility in Kigali. The mRNA manufacturing facility will be the first of three planned sites across the continent, with further factories to come in Senegal and South Africa. Together this network of factories will supply therapies and vaccines solely for people residing in member states of the African Union.

The new 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 hundreds of million mRNA vaccine doses.

The ground breaking of the BioNTech vaccines plant took place in Rwanda on Thursday, 23 June 2022. Former EU Ambassador to Rwanda, Nicola Bellomo, far right, joined President Paul Kagame (3rd from left), BioNTech CEO, Uğur Şahin, African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat, Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and other stakeholders for the historic event.