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International Partnerships
News announcement18 December 2023Directorate-General for International Partnerships

Global Gateway: EU increases support to vaccine production in Rwanda as first mRNA facility opens

Marking the inauguration today of the first BioNTech Africa manufacturing site in Kigali, Rwanda, the European Union has increased its Global Gateway investments in the country under the Team Europe Initiative on manufacturing and access to vaccines, medicines and health technologies in Africa (MAV+).   

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and President Paul Kagame witnessed the signature of a €40 million financial agreement to strengthen the Rwandan ecosystem for manufacturing health products, boosting African healthcare from within. This includes investments in nurturing local research and development, fostering biotech start-ups, and building up the surrounding talent pool. With this new contribution the total Team Europe support to local manufacturing and access to vaccines, medicines and health technologies in Rwanda comes to €93.7 million.  

Speaking at the launch of the BioNTech facility, President Ursula von der Leyen said: “Local manufacturing of vaccines with mRNA technology, in Africa, for the African people, will be a game changer in the fight against diseases and pandemics. The EU is proud to work with Rwanda and BioNTech to develop a vibrant biopharmaceutical industry on the continent. Global Gateway, Europe’s investment strategy, invests in vaccine production in Africa and in the right skills, jobs and capacities to spur health innovation at the scale of the continent.”  

EU support to local manufacturing in Rwanda

The European Union and Team Europe, encompassing Germany, Belgium, France, Lithuania, Sweden, Austria and the European Investment Bank, have partnered with Rwanda to strengthen the local ecosystem for vaccines and medicines manufacturing and health resilience. The focus of the technical and financial collaboration has been on upgrading the regulatory environment and building skills for the sector, for example through new laboratory equipment, capacity development, and a new Master of Sciences in Biotechnology programme at the University of Rwanda in partnership with European universities.

In coordination with the government and implementing partners, the new €40 million in EU Global Gateway investments will further boost the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors in Rwanda, especially in terms of higher education, training and vocational education and training (TVET), research and development (R&D), entrepreneurship, and stronger supply chains, with targeted actions including:

  • Supporting the emergence of a biotech start-up ecosystem in Rwanda by scaling up a biotech accelerator in Kigali to de-risk the R&D and business landscape. The accelerator would provide a shared laboratory space, business support services and mentorship to bridge the gap from research to commercialisation.
  • Building a talent pool for core and auxiliary functions in human medicines and vaccines production and stimulating R&D, with options including support to master’s or PhD programmes, support to the set-up of a biotech institute, a digital training offer for bio-production, and a training centre to be used by both higher education and TVET students.
  • Strengthening the supply chain with a focus on quality assurance and providing additional equipment to the Rwanda Quality Control Laboratory.

These EU investments in Rwanda are complemented at regional and continental level. Team Europe is a partner of the two main continental public health agencies in Africa: the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in Addis Ababa, which coordinates the Partnerships for African Vaccine Manufacturing (PAVM), and the African Medicines Agency (AMA), to be hosted in Kigali. 

Background

The Team Europe Initiative on Manufacturing and Access to Vaccines, Medicines and Health Technologies (‘MAV+') works with African partners to strengthen their local pharmaceutical systems and manufacturing capacity. It offers a comprehensive, 360-degree approach to tackle barriers on both supply and demand sides. The overall objective of the Team Europe Initiative is to facilitate access to quality, safe, effective and affordable health products as outlined in the UN's Sustainable Development Goal target 3.8. Supporting access to essential health products and technologies is an opportunity to target several other development objectives and geo-political priorities shared by the EU and the African Union, including job creation, diversification of global value chains and innovation.

For more information

Team Europe Initiative on manufacturing and access to vaccines, medicines and health technologies in Africa

Ground breaking of the BioNTech vaccines plant in Rwanda, President Kagame thanks EU for support to achieve vaccine-manufacturing capacity

Related documents

19 DECEMBER 2023
Team Europe Initiative on manufacturing and access to vaccines, medicines and health technologies in Africa - Rwanda factsheet
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(1.31 MB - PDF)
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Details

Publication date
18 December 2023
Author
Directorate-General for International Partnerships