German laboratory BioNTech has announced that it is aiming to set up “next year” production sites for messenger RNA vaccines in Africa, notably in Senegal and Rwanda.
The announcement was made on Friday at the Compact with Africa summit in Berlin.
“I’m confident that with today’s meeting we can reach the goal, even if it’s step by step, starting with the setting up of manufacturing units in Africa some time next year.” Ugur Sahin, BioNTech Président said at the summit.
Present at the summit were heads of state of Rwanda, Senegal, Ghana, Guinea and Congo. The summit which is the third edition focused on the state of trade cooperation between Germany and Africa.
“BioNTech stepped up and decided together with the African partners and the European Commission to bring mRNA technology to Africa, mRNA technology well known to fight Covid, but with a huge potential to fight other diseases” Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission said.
Senegalese President Macky Sall in reaction to the backing for vaccine production on the contient described it as historic ” Today is a historic day in our fight for access to vaccines, equitable vaccines in Africa, as we have said.”
University of Leipzig economist and Africa specialist Robert Kappel estimates that about 1,000 German companies are active on the continent.
He also estimates that German companies have invested an average of eight billion dollars in Africa in recent years.
“There could be a new government that is more interested in Europe, in trade cooperation with China and the United States. The African continent might not be at the heart of the next government’s concerns,” says the economist bearing in the coming departure of the German chancellor Angela Merkel.
Twelve African countries participated in the Compact with Africa summit. At the last summit in 2019, critics had already asked to take into account more countries in a continent with 54 countries.