Rwanda, through the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has secured a €7million (approximately Rwf7.7billion) deal with the European Union, through the Belgian Cooperation Agency (ENABEL) for capacity building in vaccine production.
The agreement signing between EU and ENABEL took place on Friday, May 6 at the Ministry of Health headquarters.
Speaking at the event, EU envoy to Rwanda, Nicola Bellomo commended Rwanda for all efforts in fighting against the Covid-19 pandemic in general, as well as its leading vaccination rates on the African continent.
In addition, he pointed out that this initiative will help strengthen Rwanda's regulatory framework and skills development, to support the country's ambitions to become a vaccine manufacturing hub.
"This fund will be a key component of the team Europe initiative on manufacturing and access to vaccines, medicines, and health technologies in Africa," he added.
Bellomo further explained that this deal will provide training and laboratory equipment to the Rwanda FDA, and help digitalise the country's pharmaceutical system.
"It will also work to improve the wider skills' development in relevant fields for vaccine production specifically at University level," he added.
Furthermore, Bellomo disclosed that the EU will deliver additional critical quality control laboratory equipment to the Rwanda FDA.
According to him, this will allow the agency to establish a modern quality control laboratory and thereby support its role to ensure the safety, efficacy, and quality of vaccines and pharmaceutical products.
"We believe that this initiative will ultimately enable Rwanda, which will soon be hosting the BioNtainer plant, to further attract private investment in the pharmaceutical sector."
Emile Bienvenu, the Director-General of Rwanda FDA showed gratitude towards the EU team for their support on the road to vaccine manufacturing in Rwanda, noting that this comes with interconnected priorities.
These priorities include capacitating Rwanda FDA to be able to provide vaccine manufacturing, which includes quality testing of vaccines and road release before entering the market, Bienvenu explained.
He further mentioned the maturity of vaccines on level three as a priority, arguing that they have already started that journey.
"I hope this agreement will support the authority towards addressing those two priorities," he added.
Bienvenu also highlighted the importance of this agreement towards the country, including the laboratory which will include equipment that will test vaccines and other pharmaceutical products, to make sure that those circulating meet required standards.
Dr. Daniel Ngamije, the Minister of Health commended EU and ENABEL agreement on access to quality vaccines, medicines, and health technology in the Rwanda program dubbed 'Kwigira'.
"This offers a funding opportunity to Rwanda FDA for strengthening its regulations," he said.
In addition, he pointed out that the agreement shows that the EU supports the country to become a regional vaccine manufacturing hub.
Ngamije disclosed that this support will allow Rwanda to purchase high-end equipment and develop a workforce through capacity building in Rwanda FDA, which is a necessity as the country embarks on this journey of vaccine manufacturing.
Furthermore, he assured collaboration and support from MoH as all involved partners work together to fill the gaps as far as the manufacturing of vaccines and pharmaceutical products are concerned in Rwanda.
Ngamije also revealed that the construction of a vaccines plant in Rwanda will kick off between June and July this year.
Minister for Health Dr Daniel Ngamije interacts with Emile Bienvenue, the Director-General of Rwanda FDA after the signing agreement in Kigali.
Emile Bienvenu, the Director-General of Rwanda FDA speaks at the event as Dirk Deprez Enabel Resident Representative looks on during the signing ceremony in Kigali on May 6. All Photos by Craish Bahizi
Minister for Health Dr Daniel Ngamije addresses the ceremony in Kigali on May 6