RWANDA—Africa’s efforts to build a robust and self-sufficient pharmaceutical industry for the continent have taken a critical step with the signing of  an agreement between the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation and the Rwandan Government.

This agreement is a critical step toward the Foundation’s operationalization.

In addition, the Foundation has strengthened its joint efforts by establishing a memorandum of understanding with the European Investment Bank, which will increase cooperation and support.

The signing ceremony will be attended by Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr. Vincent Biruta, President of the African Development Bank Group, and Professor Padmashree Gehl Sampath, CEO of the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation.

Others in attendance included Dr. Bärbel Kofler, Parliamentary State Secretary at Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Gelsomina Vigliotti, Vice President of the European Investment Bank, Markus Berndt, Managing Director of the EIB Global, and diplomatic representatives from African and other countries.

In June 2022, the African Development Bank Group’s Board of Directors approved the establishment of the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation as an independent body.

This ground-breaking project promotes collaboration between the public and corporate sectors not only in Africa but also in North America, Europe, and other emerging countries throughout the world.

The Rwandan government has played a critical role in anchoring the Foundation and conferring on it the status of an international organization.

During the agreement signing event in Kigali, Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr. Vincent Biruta, underlined the need to close the vaccine equity gap between African nations and developed countries.

He emphasized that in order to reduce the gap, it is necessary to continue investing in pharmaceutical manufacturing in Africa and other developing nations, with a focus on technology and information transmission. The new African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation, he claims, would speed up Africa’s access to the most recent pharmaceutical innovations.

Dr. Biruta, representing the Rwandan government, formally ratified the host country agreement, while Professor Padmashree Gehl Sampath, the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation’s interim Chief Executive Officer, signed on the Foundation’s behalf.

Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group, stated that the establishment of the Foundation demonstrates Africa’s commitment to developing a powerful health defense system that includes a booming pharmaceutical industry and high-quality healthcare infrastructure.

Adesina stressed the transformative importance of technology, stating that technology is the primary transformative tool that would enable the creation of a competitive pharmaceutical industry that Africa will require to safeguard the health and well-being of all her people.

In addition, he announced the African Development Bank’s pledge to invest up to US$3 billion in pharmaceutical product development over the next decade to reduce Africa’s reliance on imports.

Adesina’s thoughts were mirrored by Sampath, who stated, “Building Africa’s pharmaceutical sector to serve the continent is an idea whose time has come.”

She emphasized the Foundation’s clear mission and vision, stating that it is ready to begin operations in January 2024.

Sampath emphasized the importance of strengthening cooperation between local and international pharmaceutical businesses and research institutes to improve the maturity of Africa’s pharmaceutical industry.

Germany, a strong sponsor of the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation, shares the organization’s dedication to regional manufacturing.

Dr. Bärbel Kofler, Parliamentary State Secretary in Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and African Development Bank Group Governor, expressed gratitude for the opportunity to serve on the Board of Directors and reaffirmed Germany’s commitment to a robust collaboration.

Global partners such as the World Health Organization and the World Trade Organization have praised the Foundation’s establishment.

The World Health Organization’s Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, stated that the World Health Organization will be happy to assist the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation and its objective to promote access to safe and effective medications for Africa.

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of the World Trade Organization, pledged support, seeing the Foundation’s potential to improve the African pharmaceutical industry and contribute to health equity across the continent.

The signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Foundation and the European Investment Bank provided a considerable boost to the Foundation.

This collaborative endeavor intends to mobilize new funding tools, solve market problems, and promote pharmaceutical investments across Africa.

The European Investment Bank will actively participate in the Foundation’s regional biosimilars program and will help establish parks of common active pharmaceutical components in certain African sub-regions.

The European Investment Bank’s Vice President, Gelsomina Vigliotti, reaffirmed the bank’s commitment to collaborating with partners to strengthen public health and health innovation in Africa and around the world, offering assistance to the ambitious African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation.

Vigliotti stressed the critical importance of increasing access to funding in order to scale up pharmaceutical investment and innovation across the continent.

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