Rwanda’s President says Africa should have equal ground in producing COVID-19 vaccines

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Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame has said Africa should have equal ground with the rest of the world when it comes to producing COVID-19 vaccines.

He was speaking shortly after Rwanda, Senegal and South Africa were announced as potential candidates for hosting Africa’s regional COVID-19 vaccines production hubs.

Kagame says the preparedness demonstrated by these three countries on the continent served as a ground upon which they were picked.

“There are going to be, so far, three hubs across our continent, and these countries are advanced on that. That is South Africa, Senegal and Rwanda. We are going to be these hubs on the continent where the manufacturing of vaccines is going to happen. For Rwanda, in particular, we have partnered with some industries that are specializing in mRNA technology. So, we have already discussed that technology with people who will help with financing and I think in few months we should hear a different story.”

Meanwhile, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the selection of South Africa by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to establish the first mRNA technology transfer hub will help change the continent’s image and promote self-reliance.

The hub will boost vaccine manufacturing abilities in the region, as Africa continues to struggle with vaccine procurement. It will be established through a partnership consisting of South Africa’s Biovac Institute, Afrigen, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and universities.

WHO says it could see South Africa producing vaccines in the next nine to 12 months.

Addressing a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday night, Ramaphosa said the hub will lay the foundation for health security in African countries.

“Today marks an important move towards the achievement of one of the critical objectives of the African Union’s Agenda 2063, the Africa we want. The ability to manufacture vaccines, medicines and other health-related commodities will help put Africa on a path to self-determination.

Through this initiative and others, we will change the narrative of an Africa that is a centre of disease and poor development. We will create a narrative that celebrates our successes in reducing the burden of disease and advancing self-reliance, also advancing sustainable development,” added the South African President.

President Ramaphosa participates in a joint briefing on COVID-19 vaccines: