US biotech firm Moderna has finalised an agreement with the Kenyan government to develop a US$500 million messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine facility in Nairobi, its first in Africa. 

The deal was signed by Shannon Klinger, Moderna’s chief legal officer and corporate secretary, virtually from the US. 

Speaking at the American Chamber of Commerce regional trade summit in Nairobi, Kenyan President William Ruto said the project would be "a catalyst for the medical and pharmaceutical industry, not just in Kenya, but on our continent”. 

Moderna aims to produce up to 500 million doses of mRNA vaccines at the Nairobi plant each year. The facility will also have a surge capacity to respond to public health emergencies on the continent and around the world.
“We hope to bring mRNA innovation to the people of Africa in areas of high unmet need, such as acute respiratory infections, as well as persistent infectious diseases like HIV and outbreak threats such as Zika and Ebola,” said Moderna chief executive Stephane Bancel.
The facility will focus initially on drug substance manufacturing for Africa, before expanding to provide filling and packaging capabilities.

A memorandum of understanding for the project was signed in March 2022.

The investment marks Moderna's first foray into Africa and is a strong sign of confidence in Kenya's business climate. The government is aiming to increase foreign direct investment to US$10 billion a year by 2030, from less than US$500 million today, in an effort to boost job creation.

The project will also help the Kenyan government towards its target of growing the manufacturing sector's economic contribution to 20% of GDP, from 7% currently.

Top Photo:  Covid-19 vaccines on the production line (© Mariusz Burcz | Dreamstime)

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