President Uhuru Kenyatta witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Kenya and Moderna to establish Africa’s first mRNA manufacturing facility yesterday at State House in Nairobi.
The African mRNA facility, which is state-of-the-art, is expected to produce up to 500 million doses of vaccines per year.
The company plans to invest up to Sh57 billion ($500 million) in the new facility, which will focus on drug substance manufacturing on the African continent.
Kenyatta has been a vocal advocate for the African continent to produce its own COVID-19 vaccines in order to meet the needs of its population.
The Head of State has always emphasised that Africa’s ability to manufacture vaccines would aid in the containment of emerging pandemics.
“We are celebrating one of the greatest things that has possibly happened since the onset of COVID-19 at the African continent,” he said.
The President emphasised the challenges that the African continent faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This was not due to a lack of funds to purchase the vaccines, but rather because the vaccines were not available for purchase.
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,” he said.
The Moderna company has come up to fill the void that has caused the continent to suffer in meeting its vaccine needs, claiming that the new facility will go a long way in enabling African countries to deal with any emerging future pandemics.
“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,” Kenyatta said.
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe signed the MoU on behalf of the Kenyan Government while Shannon Klinger who is the Moderna’s chief legal officer signed on behalf of the company.
Also present during the function were the Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua, Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache and Director General of Health Patrick Amoth among other senior Government officials.