Rwanda has once again bagged a deal to house the new African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation, funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB) that is expected to up the continent’s access to technology in manufacturing medicines and vaccines.
This comes barely a week after the German pharmaceutical company BioNTech begun construction of a COVID-19 vaccine plant in Kigali, expected to start producing mRNA vaccine by early next year.
AfDB said “the foundation is crucial to help African pharmaceutical companies better scout for technologies and negotiate with global pharma to facilitate local production of the fundamental health products that take up to $14 billion of Africa’s income annually.”
AfDB President Dr Akinwumi Adesina said the project includes “revamping Africa’s pharmaceutical industry, building Africa’s vaccine manufacturing capacity, and building Africa’s quality healthcare infrastructure.
Africa is currently hosting about 375 pharmaceutical firms, which produce less than 25 percent of the needed products annually, forcing the countries to import vastly to meet demand.
The bank says the global efforts to rapidly expand the manufacturing of pharmaceutical products including vaccines in developing countries had been hampered by intellectual property rights protection and patents on technologies and trade secrets.
AfDB has therefore noted that the foundation will now support the “direct implementation of the Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (Trips) on non-exclusive or exclusive licensing of proprietary technologies, know-how and processes,” which should boost the pharma’s production capacity.
“Even with the decision of the Trips waiver at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), millions are dying -and will most likely continue to die – from lack of vaccines and effective protection,” Dr Adesina said.