Producing COVID-19 vaccines in Africa came one step closer after Team Europe formally agreed to support large-scale investment in vaccine production by the Institut Pasteur in Dakar, Senegal, alongside other support measures. The new manufacturing plant should reduce Africa’s 99% dependence on vaccine imports and strengthen future pandemic resilience on the continent.
The agreement is part of a major package of investment in vaccine and pharmaceuticals production in Africa launched by Team Europe in May, which brings together the European Commission, EU Member States, and the European Investment Bank, and other financial institutions, in line with the EU’s Strategy with Africa and the strategy of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and the Partnerships for African Vaccine Manufacturing (PAVM).
Team Europe, together with other international partners, has committed to a significant package of support for the medium- to long-term sustainability of the project. This includes:
Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) is supporting the manufacturing hub in Senegal with a €20 million grant through KfW (Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau), the German development bank.
France, through the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), has already granted two initial financing packages totalling €1.8 million to the MADIBA project (Manufacturing in Africa for Disease Immunization and Building Autonomy) at the Pasteur Institute in Dakar for feasibility studies and initial investments. The AFD Group and its private sector subsidiary, Proparco, are also working within the group of technical and financial partners to structure the project in order to reach financial support at a larger scale.
Belgium will support Senegal in structuring initiatives to produce vaccines and pharmaceuticals, such as the Pharmapolis pharma hub. Belgium also welcomes the fact that a Belgian biotech company in novel bio-manufacturing platforms is forging, with the support of Wallonia, a partnership with the Institut Pasteur in Dakar, as a key partner for building capacity and transferring technology.
The European Commission is discussing with the Senegalese authorities the possibility of mobilising further financial support by the end of 2021 under the new NDICI / Global Europe instrument to support this project. This is part of the €1 billion Team Europe initiative to boost the manufacturing of, and access to, vaccines, medicines and health technologies in Africa, which European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced in May 2021.
At a ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Dakar, the President of the Republic of Senegal, His Excellence Macky Sall, European Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton and representatives of Germany, France, Belgium, the European Investment Bank and other development finance institutions, including the International Finance Corporation (IFC), confirmed details of Team Europe support to accelerate project preparation, expand manufacturing capacities and undertake technical feasibility work. These will be crucial to unlock large-scale investment in the new plant. This will be built over the next 18 months and will equip the African continent with a state-of-the-art facility for the production of authorised COVID-19 vaccines.
Team Europe is providing €6.75 million in grant support to enable technical feasibility studies and project preparation for the new facility at the Institut Pasteur in Dakar. This amount includes €4.75 million from the European Commission and the European Investment Bank, €200,000 from Germany, and €1.8 million from France. This will also enable the total investment cost and financial structures to be defined and agreed with Senegalese and international partners. Construction of the new plant is expected to start later this year, with 25 million vaccine doses being produced each month by the end of 2022.
How Will the COVID19 Vaccine Production in Senegal Help Africa?
Announcing the contracts, Amadou Hott, Senegal’s Minister of the Economy said: “To strengthen the fight against pandemics in Africa, the Government of Senegal is committed to enabling COVID-19 vaccine production at the Institut Pasteur in Dakar. This project is part of the vision of His Excellency Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal, to lay the foundations for the country’s – and the continent’s – pharmaceutical and medical sovereignty. It is strongly supported by my colleagues in charge of finance and health who see it as another means with which to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic more effectively. Initial funding and expertise from Team Europe and other partners, such as the United States, the World Bank Group, and regional donors, will accelerate construction of the new production plant, increase access to affordable vaccines in Africa, and enable vaccine production to rapidly respond to new pandemics.”
“Africa currently imports 99% of its vaccines. But with today’s agreement, Team Europe is helping Senegal move one important step closer to producing its own vaccines and protecting Africans from COVID-19 and other diseases. And more will come. This is just the first part of a much broader Team Europe initiative to support the production of medicines and vaccines across Africa,” said Commission President Ursulavon der Leyen.
“Scaling up local production of COVID-19 vaccines is crucial to tackle the pandemic. As part of Team Europe, the European Investment Bank welcomes today’s agreement that will unlock large scale investment at the Institut Pasteur in Dakar to manufacture vaccines in Senegal and improve health across Africa. The European Investment Bank looks forward to even closer technical and financial cooperation with Senegalese and international partners to deliver this visionary project. This is a key milestone in the EIB’s global effort to address the health and economic challenges of COVID-19 and build a better future,” said Werner Hoyer, President of the European Investment Bank.
“Team Europe is proud to support the Government of Senegal’s visionary ambition to enable licensed COVID-19 vaccine production at the Institut Pasteur in Dakar. The initiative will not only support Africa’s autonomy in the production of life-saving vaccines, but also serve as an important building block in Senegal’s emergent health industrial ecosystem,” said Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal Market, leading the European Commission’s task force for the industrial scale-up of vaccine production.
“Team Europe is mobilised to support African partners throughout the COVID-19 crisis, in line with the priorities in our Africa Strategy. Boosting local manufacturing of vaccines, medicines and health technologies is one of the key lessons of the pandemic. Today, we draw on our combined financial firepower and expertise to accompany Senegal and the Institut Pasteur of Dakar in producing vaccines to bring the pandemic to an end. It is crucial to take an integrated, 360-degree approach by further investing with our African partners in areas like the enabling environment, regulatory strengthening, incentives for the private sector, research and development, education and training, and innovative jobs,” said Jutta Urpilainen, Commissioner for International Partnerships.
“As part of Team Europe, the European Investment Bank is pleased to support technical feasibility and project preparation studies for Africa’s first COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing plant at the Institut Pasteur in Dakar. Over the coming months we will intensify cooperation with the Government of Senegal and international financing, technical and pharmaceutical partners to unlock large-scale financing to bring African vaccine production to reality and reduce Africa’s dependence on imported vaccines,” said AmbroiseFayolle, European Investment Bank Vice-President.
“COVID-19 poses a growing threat in Africa. So Africa needs a vaccine campaign – using African-produced vaccines. Now, for the first time, the continent has a realistic chance of establishing its own manufacturing facilities. Senegal’s Institut Pasteur has unveiled an actionable strategy for launching licensed COVID-19 vaccine production in Africa. The 20 million euros we are providing in seed funding will be important in helping to get the project off the ground. Germany supports the goal that Senegal and the international community share, which is for us to emerge from this pandemic stronger,” said Germany’s Minister for Development, Gerd Müller.
“Addressing vaccine production capacity is a key aspect of our strategy to stem the pandemic, as the President of the Republic has stated. Today, by supporting vaccine production in Africa with a European approach, we’re helping to build our partners’ ability to autonomously provide vaccines for their citizens. So I’m delighted to see this vaccine plant project take shape, a project that is the result of collaboration between the Pasteur Institute in Dakar, Senegal and Team Europe,” said the French Minister for Europe and for Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves le Drian.
“We fully join Team Europe. Vaccine equality is key to my policy and a major global challenge. Africa needs access to affordable, quality-assured health products. Belgium’s efforts go beyond increasing vaccine manufacturing capacities. They shall prioritise public health, reinforce epidemic preparedness and strengthen local health systems. We will support our Senegalese partners with the structuring of their pharmaceutical industry and the launch of a pharma production hub,” said Belgium’s Minister of Development Cooperation and Major Cities Policy, MeryameKitir.
Author: Moses Echodu
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