Rwanda will host the new African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation, a venture by the African Development Bank (AfDB) that is expected to boost the continent’s access to technology in manufacturing medicines and vaccines.

AfDB said the foundation is crucial to help African pharmaceutical companies better scout for technologies and negotiate with global pharma to facilitate local production of the fundamental health products that take up to $14 billion of Africa’s income annually.

AfDB President Dr Akinwumi Adesina said the project includes “revamping Africa’s pharmaceutical industry, building Africa’s vaccine manufacturing capacity, and building Africa’s quality healthcare infrastructure.”

The continent is currently home to about 375 pharmaceutical firms, which produce less than 25 per cent of the needed products annually, forcing the countries to import vastly to meet demand.

AfDB says the foundation will now support the “direct implementation of the Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (Trips) on non-exclusive or exclusive licensing of proprietary technologies, know-how, and processes,” which should boost the pharma’s production capacity.

“Even with the decision of the Trips waiver at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), millions are dying -and will most likely continue to die – from lack of vaccines and effective protection,” Dr Adesina said.

According to WTO Director-General, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the undertaking “provides part of the infrastructure needed to assure an emergent pharmaceutical industry in Africa.”
Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organisation, said the foundation is “a game-changer on accelerating the access of African pharmaceutical companies to IP-protected technologies and know-how in Africa.”