Rwanda Signs Groundbreaking Deal with APTF to Transform Africa’s Pharmaceutical Landscape

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The government of Rwanda has inked a transformative agreement with the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation (APTF). The deal, signed on December 18, underscores a collective commitment to leveraging technology to reshape the medical landscape across the continent.

Despite Africa producing only 1% of its required vaccines, the region imports over 70% of its pharmaceuticals, incurring an annual cost of up to $14 billion, as per data from the African Development Bank (AfDB). Responding to the urgent need for technological advancement in the pharmaceutical sector, African member states requested the establishment of APTF.

Vincent Biruta, Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister, emphasized that the APTF agreement signifies a shared dedication to deploying science and technology in the pharmaceutical ecosystem. The objective is to foster research, development, and equitable knowledge exchange for the greater good of society. Biruta expressed hope that similar initiatives would proliferate across the continent, highlighting the signing as a testament to shared commitment, collaboration, and innovation in expanding the pharmaceutical industry for the benefit of all Africans.

Akinwumi Adesina, President of the AfDB, outlined the foundation’s dual strategy of negotiating access to proprietary manufacturing techniques and creating an environment conducive to revitalizing Africa’s regional pharmaceutical industry. Adesina stressed the importance of building local manufacturing capacity, ensuring technology transfer, and securing intellectual property rights. Equally critical, he noted, is the need to establish robust pharmaceutical and biomedical research and development ecosystems to support world-class local pharmaceutical industries.

The European Investment Bank Vice President, Gelsomina Vilglotti, underscored their commitment by signing a partnership agreement with APTF to support the foundation’s program advancement. Vilglotti praised Rwanda as a trailblazer in healthcare transformation in Africa, hosting institutions like the upcoming African Medicine Agency.

The APTF, approved by the African Development Bank Board of Directors in June 2022, has a clear mandate: to enhance access to technology for manufacturing a comprehensive range of pharmaceutical products in Africa. The foundation aims to facilitate technology transfer, drive technological advancements relevant to Africa’s pharmaceutical industry, and initiate targeted initiatives to boost technology assimilation in both the public and private sectors across the continent.

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