Kagame: Donations insufficient, Africa needs to produce vaccines

Covid-19 vaccine donations will not cut it for Africa, and the continent needs to be serious about setting up vaccine manufacturing plants so as to end reliance on the West, Rwandan President Paul Kagame has said.

His remarks come a week after BioNTech, a German biotechnology company producing the Pfizer vaccine, announced that it was looking to build vaccine manufacturing sites in Rwanda and Senegal.

“It takes a long time for African countries to get Covid-19 vaccines, and when the vaccines get here, many people are already in critical health conditions. That is why it is important for Africa to find a way to manufacture vaccines,” Kagame said in a televised interview on Rwanda Broadcasting Agency on Sunday.

He said that vaccine plants in Africa, such as the one his country is planning to construct, would help to end the monopoly of the West and save many lives on the continent.

“Africa was used to receiving foreign aid whenever problems hit. But this pandemic hit the whole world. Countries that would offer the aid were hit as well. That is when the idea of producing our own vaccines came. It will not only be for Rwanda or Covid-19 vaccine. It will produce multiple vaccines for the whole of Africa,” he said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) last month said that the supply of Covid vaccines to Africa had improved. Earlier, the continent struggled to get vaccine doses.