Rwanda says it has signed a collaboration agreement with the International Finance Centre to boost its vaccine manufacturing capacity and also contribute to expanding production on the continent. Under the deal, IFC will support Rwanda to conduct diagnostic and feasibility studies to ensure the right technical and policy frameworks needed to establish a world-class vaccine manufacturing supply chain in Rwanda are in place. According to a Rwanda Development Board (RDB), the partnership follows a recent development with BioNTech and the kENUP Foundation to explore establishing end-to-end manufacturing capability for mRNA vaccines. Other potential vaccine and pharmaceutical production facilities, including a fill-and-finish facility, are expected to be co-located with BioNTech in the Kigali Special Economic Zone. Africa depends on other countries for 99 per cent of its vaccine supply. The African Union and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention are aiming to have 60 per cent of Africa’s routine vaccines produced locally by 2040. Africa CDC has identified Rwanda, Senegal, and South Africa as potential regional vaccine manufacturing hubs in Africa. “Rwanda aims to produce high-quality vaccines for the African market. A production facility like the one envisaged in this collaboration agreement advances this objective. We are pleased to have IFC as a strategic partner,” noted Zephanie Niyonkuru, the Deputy CEO of RDB. A vital step The move, according to Samuel Dzotefe, IFC’s Acting Regional Industry Director for Manufacturing, Agribusiness and Services in the Middle East and Africa, is a vital step. “A resilient Africa needs to develop and maintain its own reliable vaccine supply and health industry. He added, This partnership with the Rwanda Development Board is a vital step toward helping Africa build vaccine manufacturing capacity to respond to Covid-19 and future pandemics. The World Bank Group has been scaling up support to countries to produce, acquire and deliver vaccines, particularly in Africa. To support this work, IFC is working with governments and the private sector to support pharmaceutical and related vaccine manufacturing projects. Rwanda has recently stepped up its vaccination efforts where everyone above the age of 18 can now receive the vaccine. The government plans to vaccinate 60 per cent of its 12.9 million population (or 7.8 million people) by June 2022. And according to health practitioners, based on the current pace of vaccination, 30 per cent of the population, especially from urban areas, will be vaccinated by early 2022.