First of all, thank you, Professor Şahin for your presentation, and above all for BioNTech’s commitment to Africa, and to Rwanda.
I also want to thank Dr Özlem Türeci, and the entire board and staff of BioNTech, as well as the kENUP Foundation.
This groundbreaking is really a historic milestone towards vaccine equity.
Rwanda intends to build on this investment by putting in place the conditions to attract other manufacturers and innovators.
Rwanda fully supports BioNTech’s commitment to power this factory entirely with green energy, and we will work together closely to achieve that.
The land we are standing on, is dedicated to biopharma manufacturing.
Rwanda is working with the International Finance Corporation, and other partners such as the European Investment Bank, to put in place a comprehensive investment strategy for this sector.
Makhtar Diop, thank you so much for being here today, and thank you for the exceptional support we have been receiving from your team.
Vaccine manufacturing requires advanced regulatory capability, as well as a highly-skilled human capital.
I am happy to announce that Cabinet has approved the establishment of the African Biomanufacturing Institute, which will provide training and qualification for this industry.
Working together with existing universities and training providers, as well as private sector partners like BioNTech, this innovative institution will provide a solution for workforce development, from short courses, through to graduate degrees.
I am pleased that, yesterday, the Rwanda Food and Drug Authority (FDA) signed a twinning agreement with the European Union. We thank you.
Through a consortium led by France, Germany, and Belgium, our regulatory capacity will gain expertise and support from these partner agencies.
This is just the latest backing that we have received from Team Europe, which has been a strong backer of this effort from the beginning.
We also greatly appreciate the technical support that Rwanda FDA has received from the World Health Organization, as we advance to Maturity Level 3 status.
We are also working to link Africa’s regulators together, a vision that has been championed by the African Union Development Agency NEPAD for more than a decade.
I am happy to see that the new CEO of AUDA-NEPAD, Nardos Bekele-Thomas, has joined us today.
Tomorrow, Rwanda FDA and Ghana FDA will sign a memorandum of understanding. Ghana’s regulator is one of the most advanced in Africa.
Ghana is indeed a critical partner in this pan-African effort. I express my sincere thanks and appreciation to His Excellency President Nana Akufo-Addo. Thank you for being here with us as well, for the strong partnership we are forging.
We expect that this facility will work closely with a plant being established in Ghana, to ensure a complete end-to-end production chain in Africa, under the close supervision of both our regulators.
Allow me to close by emphasising the wider African context.
This ceremony is a result of the African Union’s decision last year to take action on vaccine inequality.
Chairperson of the African Union Commission, I thank you for your tireless effort to make this happen.
This facility is one of three identical sites planned by BioNTech, in line with the strategy, including Senegal and South Africa.
So, really, a big thank you to everyone who has played a critical role in getting us to this point.
This is just the start, but a big start.
Professor Uğur, rest assured that you can count on Rwanda as a reliable partner, and we look forward to many years of productive collaborations.
Thank you for your kind attention.