Rwanda is engaging a host of higher learning institutions to help train, re-skill and upskill professionals in the bio-manufacturing industry. The move is expected to potentially add impetus to the continent’s role in vaccine manufacturing global value chain as well as capabilities. The development follows a recent cabinet decision to approve the establishment of the Africa Biomanufacturing Institute in Rwanda. Vaccine manufacturing requires advanced regulatory capability as well as a highly skilled human capital, according to Tharcisse Mpunga, Minister of State for primary health care at the Ministry of Health. Thus, he said, the institute will be mandated to provide training and qualification for this industry. Mpunga exclusively told The New Times on Thursday, that the initiative has already attracted several universities in the United States, Europe among other parts of the world. “Before the end of the year, we want to start with operations. Local Universities are expected to contribute to the initiative because of the setup,” he said. Despite Universities, the country is also turning to different training providers as well as private sector partners for workforce development, from short courses to graduate degrees. Fully funded training The training is expected to be fully funded by various partners including the government, BionTech, among others. “The plan is to select competency based courses and we send the professionals for training,” he added, “Depending on the nature of the course, one student can study a single course from different academic institutions.” Rwanda intends to, among others, promote scalable mRNA vaccine production in Africa. Recently, President Paul Kagame alongside several high-ranked officials led the ceremony to break ground for the construction of the BioNTech vaccine manufacturing plant in Rwanda. The plant is being built in the Kigali Special Economic Zone located at Masoro-Munini, Gasabo District, in a section earmarked for biopharma manufacturing. During the ceremony, President Kagame reiterated that Rwanda plans to build on this investment by putting in place the conditions to attract other manufacturers and innovators. Like many African countries however, the country lacks enough talent, a gap that is set to be depleted by the institute. Mpunga is of the belief that Rwanda and the rest of Africa need to be prepared, should there be a shortage of international experts. “It is not just about a specific plant being constructed, as we continue to attract such investments, there is a sense of readiness that is required for us to build enough pipelines.” From north to south, experts say that continental manufacturing capabilities are limited, mainly due to the setup of value chains. The new institute, Mpunga says, has been designed in such a way that it positions itself as another avenue to reverse the trend. He said that beneficiaries include different professionals from around the continent with no exception. “The programme is very agile, we plan to look at what is needed, build around it and also partner with universities to acquire the skills,” he said.