BioNTech signs agreement to set up first vaccine plants in Africa

By Maniraguha Ferdinand

BioNTech will start its production in Africa by 2024

BioNTech, a German biotechnology company has on Tuesday, 26th October signed memorandum of Understanding with Rwandan Government and the Institut Pasteur de Dakar, Senegal,  aimed at constructing first mRNA manufacturing facility in Africa to be rolled out in mid-2022

These  facilities are expected to be completed in the course of two years once the construction works kicks off.

BioNTech hailed the agreements, saying that these plants “will become a node in a decentralized and robust African end-to-end manufacturing network”.

“This is the next step in BioNTech’s efforts to implement sustainable end-to-end vaccine supply solutions on the African continent”, German company adds.

Signing ceremony was held in Kigali, as a side-event of the Second Ministerial Meeting of the African Union and the European Union.

In a statement issued by kENUP Foundation, Ugur Sahin, CEO and Co-founder of BioNTech said the move aimed at easing access of vaccines for Africa, which produces only 1 % of vaccines it uses.

“I would like to thank all participants of today’s meeting for the support and trust to establish the first mRNA manufacturing facility within the African Union. Together, we will work on developing a regional manufacturing network to support the access to vaccines manufactured in Africa, for Africa”.

“Our goal is to develop vaccines in the African Union and to establish sustainable vaccine production capabilities to jointly improve medical care in Africa. We have made great progress in the past few weeks, which will help us on our way to turn these plans into reality”, he added.

Sierk Poetting, COO of BioNTech said that “planning and initial assets for the new facility have already been ordered.”

Rwandan Health Minister, Dr Ngamije Daniel told reporters that they expect Kigali based plant to cost more than 100 million Euros once it is completed.

It will be set up in Kigali Special Economic Zone which is at the outskirts of the Capital towards the Eastern part of the Country. Rwanda will avail land on which the plant will be constructed, among other things.

BioNTech will initially staff, own and operate the facility to support the safe and rapid initiation of the production of mRNA-based vaccine doses. BioNTech plans to transfer manufacturing capacities and the know-how to local partners.

European Investment Bank will allocate funds needed for the agreement to be implemented as It was announced during the signing ceremony.

“The BioNTech partnership will not only build physical infrastructure but also strengthen human capacity in Africa to develop the most advanced vaccine technologies,” said Senegal Minister of Foreign Affairs Aïssata Tall Sall.

“With decades of experience manufacturing yellow fever vaccines, the Institut Pasteur de Dakar is ready to partner with BioNTech to rise to the challenge of developing mRNA vaccines for Africa”, she added.

Apart from Rwanda and Senegal, BioNTech is also finalizing its agreement with South Africa to launch its first vaccine there.



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