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AfDB Boosts Rwanda Healthcare Innovation with $12 Million Grant

Rwanda is set to become a central hub in improving healthcare outcomes across Africa, thanks to a substantial financial commitment from the African Development Fund. The Board of Directors of the African Development Fund, in a significant move on February 27, 2024, in Abidjan, approved an $11.96 million grant aimed at accelerating the operationalisation of the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation (APTF) headquartered in Kigali, Rwanda. This initiative, bolstered by an additional $1.93 million contribution from the Rwandan government, is designed to implement the Regional Pharmaceutical Sector Support Project within Rwanda, marking a significant step forward in the continent’s healthcare sector.

The African Development Bank Group‘s Regional Public Good window facilitates this financial support, aiming to enhance access to advanced pharmaceutical technologies and strengthen the regulatory frameworks within Africa’s pharmaceutical industry. Aissa Touré Sarr, head of the African Development Bank’s Rwanda country office, highlighted the project’s potential to yield considerable benefits across the continent. By fostering leading-edge research and technological innovations, the APTF is expected to improve access to advanced medicines and treatments, address prevalent diseases, and contribute significantly to the continent’s health resilience.

The APTF, whose inception was greenlit by the African Development Bank Board of Directors in June 2022, is a pivotal establishment in Rwanda’s commitment to healthcare innovation. After signing a host country agreement in December 2023, the foundation is poised to serve as a transparent intermediary. It aims to promote negotiations with pharmaceutical multinationals and other Southern countries on sharing technology, know-how, and patents protected by intellectual property rights, addressing a critical challenge faced by many African nations in accessing vital technology for local medicine and vaccine production.

The foundation’s role extends beyond negotiation to building the capacity of African pharmaceuticals, enhancing local production, and fostering a systematic approach to learning new technologies. This strategic direction not only aims at technological upscaling of production plants but also at strengthening human and professional competences within the sector and the R&D ecosystem. Such efforts are geared towards nurturing a thriving pharmaceutical sector and vaccine innovation on the continent.

Funding from the African Development Fund will facilitate the procurement of essential office equipment and the recruitment of experts and specialized technical firms. These resources will provide a broad spectrum of health and pharmaceutical services, essential for the foundation’s success. Additionally, the project will support information dissemination, consultancy services, training in good manufacturing practices, and study trips for knowledge transfer, all of which are critical for improving the quality and safety of pharmaceutical products.

Moreover, the APTF will work in close collaboration with various international and regional organizations, including the African Union Medicines Agency, Africa CDC, the European Union, WHO, WTO, the Medicines Patent Pool, and other philanthropic, bilateral, and multilateral agencies and institutions. This collaborative approach underscores the foundation’s unique position as the first institution of its kind to engage with both the public and private sectors across Africa and beyond, including significant support from the European Investment Bank and Germany.

Through these concerted efforts, the APTF is set to play a pivotal role in transforming the pharmaceutical landscape across Africa, enhancing healthcare outcomes, and paving the way for a healthier continent.

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