The Government of Rwanda and the European Union (EU) have signed a partnership which will see European countries support Rwanda’s efforts to invest in the manufacturing of vaccines locally.
The EU and the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) signed the Rwf3.6 billion agreement to promote the Rwandan tourism and health sectors on Wednesday, June 30.
The EU Ambassador to Rwanda Nicola Bellomo and CEO of RDB Clare Akamanzi signed the agreement which is aimed at supporting the mentioned sectors and to strengthen the capacity of the Rwanda Food and Drug Authority (RFDA), which is key to enhancing the attractiveness of Rwanda for investments in vaccine manufacturing.
On the occasion of the signing the, European Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, said that the partnership will go a long way in enhancing and attracting investments in Rwanda’s health sector particularly.
“I welcome the agreement today to strengthen the capacity of the Rwanda Food and Drug Authority (RFDA), which is key to enhance the attractiveness of Rwanda for investments in the manufacturing of vaccines and other pharmaceuticals, thus helping to improve access to medicines,”
“This is an important step in supporting local manufacturing of health products in Africa. As announced by President von der Leyen, Team Europe will continue to support the country and Africa in strengthening the regulatory framework and attracting investment in the pharmaceutical sector,” Urpilainen.
The Minister of Health, Dr Daniel Ngamije, said the funding will help reinforce the country’s regulatory capabilities.
“Upgrading Rwanda’s regulatory capabilities to the required international standards is a critical step on our journey to vaccine manufacturing. The European Union is a central partner in our efforts to bridge the gap in vaccine equity in Africa by building pharmaceutical production capacity,”
At the time when the African continent is grappling with COVID-19 vaccine shortages, the RDB CEO said the partnership with the EU will be crucial and will contribute towards building the momentum to vaccine manufacturing on the continent.
“Access to vaccines is critical, especially for Africa where only around 1% of vaccines are manufactured on the continent. This agreement boosts Rwanda’s efforts to build a vaccine and pharmaceutical manufacturing ecosystem to contribute to health security of our region and our continent,” Akamanzi said.
The initiative agreed will help the RFDA establish a strong quality control laboratory for medical products and supply new equipment for an integrated information management system.
This will help the RFDA 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 this effort, the EU Delegation will also seek to facilitate a peer-to-peer partnership between the RFDA and national regulatory authorities from EU Member States.
Furthermore, 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.
In May 2021, the EU announced at the G20 Global Health Summit in Rome a #TeamEurope initiative on manufacturing and access to vaccines, medicines, and health technologies in Africa.
The initiative will help to create an enabling environment for local vaccine manufacturing in Africa and tackle barriers on both the supply and demand sides, backed by €1 billion from the EU budget and the European development finance institutions, such as the European Investment Bank (EIB). This amount will be further enhanced by contributions from EU Member States.