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Rwanda Inaugurates Covid-19 Vaccine Factory


Rwanda has inaugurated German firm BioNTech’s mRNA Covid-19 vaccine factory in the capital Kigali, following the set-up of the first modular manufacturing unit at the site. 
The groundbreaking of the facility, which is said to be the first of its kind on the African continent, took place in June 2022. 
BioNTech has committed a total investment of about US$150 million to complete the construction of the site including the manufacturing units, called BioNTainers, at its location in the Kigali Special Economic Zone. 
The firm expects to complete all buildings on site in 2024, including a warehouse, offices and laboratories for quality control. It plans to begin manufacturing mRNA-based vaccine batches required for process validation in 2025. 
The overall factory site has an estimated size of 35,000 square metres and, once complete, will be able to produce between 50 and 100 million doses of mRNA vaccines annually. 
Besides Covid-19 vaccines, the facility will also help conduct trials on new therapeutics for malaria, tuberculosis, HIV, cancers and other diseases.
We’re honored to have welcomed our African partners for the first time on the African continent as construction began for the initial African #mRNA manufacturing facility in Kigali, Rwanda, 4 months after we introduced the #BioNTainer concept in February. https://t.co/MQRRCwvzrO pic.twitter.com/YsH3w43o3o
— BioNTech SE (@BioNTech_Group) June 23, 2022

BioNTech says it is committed to establishing additional manufacturing facilities in Africa upon the successful validation of the facility in Kigali, which serves as a lighthouse project. The company is said to be looking at setting up plants in Senegal and South Africa in the near future.
Compared to the facility in Kigali, additional sites could be designed as larger facilities providing increased commercial-scale manufacturing capacities in Africa, or they could be smaller and specialised in the manufacture of batches for the clinical evaluation of product candidates.
BioNTech’s move is being supported by the German government, which is contributing more than €550 million (US$600 million) – of which around €500 million (US$546.5 million) comes from development cooperation – to the African Union’s goal of producing 60% of vaccines administered in Africa by 2040. 
“Today, only one in 100 of the vaccine doses administered in Africa is actually produced there,” said Germany’s Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs Annalena Baerbock, at the factory inauguration ceremony in mid-December. 
“By 2040, this figure is set to be 60 times higher. [The EU’s] Global Gateway [initiative] is making this possible by providing €1.2 billion [US$1.3 billion] by 2027, with €550 million coming from Germany alone.” 

Photo: BioNTech facility (Source: Rwandan government)


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