First of all, I want to welcome you, particularly the Heads of State and Government who have joined us, and the leaders of international institutions.

Secondly, I want to thank you, beginning with BioNTech, especially Professor Uğur and Professor Özlem.

We are very proud of the entire team from BioNTech who have worked tirelessly to deliver this project.

This facility is designed to be among the most advanced in the world.

Most of the staff are from Africa, including the site manager, an engineer from Nigeria.

The quality is exactly the same as you would find anywhere else.

Vaccine inequity hit Africa hard during the pandemic.

We found ourselves knocking on every door in search of doses.

The situation was intolerable and the African Union came together to make a firm commitment that we would not allow ourselves to be in that position, ever again.

That is how Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Ghana, came to be the pilot countries for vaccine manufacturing. Others have also joined and we have all made solid progress working together.

Africa CDC has coordinated the Partnership for African Vaccine Manufacturing, led by Dr Jean Kaseya.

The African Medicines Agency was created with its future headquarters here in Kigali.

I commend Chairperson Moussa Faki for his steadfast support and being a force behind all these efforts, as well as the African Union special envoys, who helped steer us through very uncertain times.

You may remember that the consensus at first was that mRNA vaccines could not even be administered in Africa. It was said to be too complicated for our health systems.

Then, when we embarked on this journey to manufacture these vaccines on our continent, we were told that it would take a minimum of 30 years.

That was all wrong.

It is possible. And because it is possible, it is also necessary.

What BioNTech’s partnership with Africa demonstrates is that vaccine technology can be democratized.

But we could not have reached this point without a wider set of partnerships.

The world mobilized, quickly and effectively, to support the African initiatives.

President Ursula von der Leyen, I want to personally thank you for your personal involvement. Working together with other partners and the European Union, you became instrumental  in initiating the collaboration with BioNTech.

And the European Commission has provided crucial support to Rwanda to build our regulatory capacity, support skills and training, and fund research, as did the European Investment Bank.

Many individual partner countries stepped up as well, but today, allow me to single out Germany, which immediately put in place an extensive cooperation program.

The World Health Organization has supported Rwanda’s regulator to work toward ML-3 status, in record time.

The African Development Bank took the lead in establishing the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation, which will also be based here in Kigali. We thank the African Development Bank.

And the International Finance Corporation has been with us from the beginning helping Rwanda to map out the long-term vision for our pharmaceutical ecosystem.

I am pleased to announce that Rwanda is moving into a new phase of collaboration with IFC to ensure that BioNTech’s investment is just the first of many.

If time permitted, I would highlight many other contributions, such as those of Gavi, CEPI, and the Global Fund.

The reason I wanted to mention all of this is because the real success factor in today’s milestone is trust and cooperation.

And we will need more of that if we want to ensure that Africa is ready and resilient no matter what happens in the future.

The presence here of our sister, Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados, signals that the concern for health equity extends beyond our continent.

Rwanda and Barbados have been advising and supporting each other closely on pharma manufacturing.

We would like to see much deeper cooperation between Africa and the Caribbean, especially with respect to pooled procurement, to make our industries sustainable.

Adversity is often the starting point of great success. In the end, we all have something to offer each other.

Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, once again I welcome you and I thank you all for sharing this day with us. Have a good day.