A continental fund dubbed ‘Ubuntu Health Impact Fund’ has been launched in Kigali to support Africa’s pharmaceutical industry through encouraging innovation. Championed by the Africa Health and Economic Transformation Initiative (AHETI) in collaboration with the AU Development Agency – NEPAD, the Yale University Global Justice Program, among other partners, the initiative has already garnered about $100million, but is expected to raise up to $5billion in the next five years. Speaking to media on Wednesday during the launch, Charles Chilufya, the Executive Director and Chair of the Board of AHETI, said the fund is a way of incentivizing pharmaceutical innovation and production in and for Africa. “As you know, to innovate or produce pharmaceuticals and diagnostics, you need funding but in the current scheme of things there is more innovation and more pharmaceutical production in the developed north or the west, because that is where there is a promise of profit when innovation is done,” he said. “But what this fund will do is that it will promise to reward those innovators and pharmaceutical producers who are producing for Africa, or are repurposing their medicines to have an impact on African disease, and bring down the disease burden,” he added. Noting that there is very limited production of pharmaceuticals in Africa (contributing only one percent of the global pharmaceutical production), Chilufya said that efforts like the fund are aimed at increasing the numbers to at least 10 percent. The Ubuntu Health Impact Fund is a cocktail of various funding, including from impact investors, donations from philanthropies - both at individual and organizational level, as well as support from developed nations. The Minister of Health, Dr Sabin Nsanzimana who presided over the event lauded the initiative saying, as he called upon various stakeholders to put money into it. “I, therefore, call on all governments, donor agencies, philanthropists and all persons looking to see an Africa free of poverty and diseases, to put money into the fund so that we can achieve what the AHETI is all about,” he said. Rwanda Biomedical Center Director General, Claude Mambo Muvunyi told the media that the Ubuntu Impact Fund is an idea that Rwanda is supporting, as part of the efforts to increase the capacity for pharmaceutical manufacturing, especially in the private sector. Meanwhile, Rwanda is positioning itself for the manufacture of pharmaceuticals, where for example, the government has partnered with BioNTech to establish a vaccine manufacturing plant in Rwanda that will promote scalable mRNA vaccine production in Africa. The Rwandan facility, covering the size of about 30,000 square metres, will be initially equipped with two BioNTainers (one for the production of mRNA, and one for the production of the formulated bulk drug product) and production is expected to commence approximately within 12 to 18 months after their installation.