President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Kenya and Moderna to establish the first mRNA manufacturing facility in Africa.
The state-of-the-art mRNA facility in Africa is expected to produce up to 500 million doses of vaccines each year.
The Company anticipates investing up to $500 million in the new facility, which will focus on drug substance manufacturing on the continent of Africa for the continent of Africa.
President Kenyatta has been at the forefront championing for the African continent to manufacture its own COVID-19 vaccines in order to meet the demand of its population. His Excellency has always emphasized the fact that Africa’s capacity to manufacture vaccines would help arrest emerging pandemics.
The President pointed out that the setting up of the mRNA manufacturing facility will be a game-changer especially for Kenya which has had a vision to produce vaccines.
“We are celebrating one of the greatest things that has possibly happened since the onset of COVID-19 at the African continent,” said President Kenyatta.
The President reiterated the challenges faced by the African continent during the COVID-19 pandemic. This was not because of lack of finances to buy the vaccines but because the vaccines were not available for them for purchase.
His Excellency thanked Moderna company for coming up to fill the space which made the continent suffer in meeting its vaccines needs saying the new facility will go a long way in enabling African countries to tackle any emerging future pandemics.
“We all know the challenges that Kenya and the entire continent of Africa went through in the earlier stages of this pandemic that resulted in Africa being left behind. Not because of want but because of lack and Moderna has come to fill that space.
“We are truly grateful, for this and I think it will be transformative not just in helping us with the current pandemic but also preparing the continent of Africa for future pandemics,” President Kenyatta said.
The President thanked the Director for Africa Centre for Disease Control Dr. John Nkengasong and the Government of America for supporting Kenya in its endeavor to set up the facility.
“Thank you for the support we have received from you (Dr. John Nkengasong) and your entire team from Africa CDC. I would also want to thank the American Government that has also been very supportive to Kenya and Africa not only to make this day happen but also for the support they gave us of vaccines at a time we needed them,” he added.
Moderna’s Chief Executive Officer Stéphane Bancel said his company is committed to partnering to provide a health solution saying the investment the company is making in Kenya is crucial as it is part of the solution to ensuring global health equity.
“Battling the COVID-19 pandemic over the last two years has provided a reminder of the work that must be done to ensure global health equity. Moderna is committed to being a part of the solution and today, we announce another step in this journey – an investment in the Republic of Kenya to build a drug substance mRNA manufacturing facility capable of supplying up to 500 million doses for the African continent each year,” said Stéphane Bancel, Chief Executive Officer of Moderna.
He said the mRNA global public health vaccine program, including vaccine programs against HIV and Nipah, will ensure sustainable access to transformative mRNA innovation on the African continent.
Director for Africa Centre for Disease Control Dr. John Nkengasong said the setting up of the facility is critical to Africa’s security noting that the production of the vaccines will ensure the continent is able to tackle current and future health challenges.
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe signed the MOU on behalf of the Kenyan Government while Shannon Klinger who is Moderna’s chief legal officer signed on behalf of the company.
Also present during the function were the Head of Public Service Dr. Joseph Kinyua, Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache and Director General of Health Dr. Patrick Amoth among other senior Government officials.