African Guarantee and Economic Cooperation Fund (FAGACE) has signed a deal with Cogebanque to fund the construction of Rwanda’s largest pharmaceutical plant. The plant, which is being constructed by Apex Biotech, is worth $20 million. Under the arrangement, Cogebaque will fund the project at unspecified amount while FAGACE will provide a guarantee cover of up to 50 per cent of the total loan. FAGACE, an international institution specialising in the promotion of public and private investments, signed the memorandum of understanding with Cogebanque yesterday in Kigali. Minafou Fanta Coulibaly Kone, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of FAGACE said that the Fund will continue to work with Cogebanque in financing the growth of Rwanda’s small and medium enterprises. “The guarantee agreement signed today is the first of its kind that FAGACE signs with Cogebanque and marks the beginning of a lasting cooperation in setting up a line of guarantee for SMEs” she said. “The most ardent wish is that APEX BIOTECH is a success story and that the Cooperation between FAGACE and Cogebanque strengthens and leads to the signing of several guarantee agreements in favour of several projects” she added. Cherno Gaye, the Managing Director at Cogebanque stressed the need for more funding for the SME sector, saying that cooperating with FAGACE will enhance the Ban’s SME programme. “One of the key challenges to companies, particularly SMEs, which are the engine of growth, is access to finance due to lack of a good collateral,” he said. He added that the agreement will go a long way in solving this issue. “We are very excited about the myriad possibilities this facility presents” Cherno added. Apex Biotech said the agreement is a timely boost to its pharmaceutical project. “FAGACE and Cogebanque have marked the commencement of a paramount partnership for our manufacturing factory in the country” said Dr A A Faruque the Managing Director at Apex Biotech. According to Faruque, the plant will begin production in mid-2019, producing some basic medicines needed in the country. “Our production will focus on medicines for malaria, HIV/AIDS, TB, Hepatitis, heart diseases, diabetes, malnutrition and women and children’s health conditions,” he said. The first phase of construction will cost $6 million, Faruque. FAGACE operates in 14 countries including Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Côte dIvoire, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Chad and Togo. The Fund started its operations in Rwanda in June 2015. It is keen to work with local banks.