Rwanda has landed a deal to establish a pharmaceutical body, funded by the African Development Bank, to support the region in the making of vaccines, drugs and patent applications.
The African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation is part of the bank’s commitment to spend at least Sh352.95 billion ($3 billion) over the next 10 years to support the industry under its Vision 2030 Pharmaceutical action Plan.
The bank said global efforts to rapidly expand the manufacturing of pharmaceutical products including vaccines in developing countries had been hampered by intellectual property rights protection and patents on technologies and trade secrets.
“No institution exists on the ground in Africa to support the practical implementation of Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights on non-exclusive or exclusive licensing of proprietary technologies, know-how and processes,” the Bank’s statement read.
In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, some African countries including South Africa had called for patent rights waiver on medical products and vaccines to ensure accessibility.
“The African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation provides a practical solution and will help to tilt the access to proprietary technologies, knowledge, know-how and processes in favour of Africa,” said Akinwumi Adesina, group president at African Development Bank.
The establishment of the foundation will benefit the East African region by promoting bilateral trade, especially since Rwanda has been an importer of Kenya’s medical supplies.
According to the bank, 35 companies signed a licence with America’s Merck- a multinational pharmaceutical company to produce Nirmatrelvir, a Covid-19 drug and none of them was African.
The foundation seeks to bridge the gap between companies globally by acting as a broker for the interests of the African pharmaceutical sector to access intellectual property-protected technologies and waive patent barriers.
The foundation also aims at strengthening the regional pharmaceutical and vaccine innovation in Africa.