South Africa's Ramaphosa calls for African-made vaccines

Tuesday April 13 2021
Cyril Ramaphosa

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is inoculated with a Covid-19 vaccine shot at the Khayelitsha Hospital in Cape Town on February 17, 2021. PHOTO | AFP


Africa needs the skills and capacity to manufacture its own vaccines, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said Monday, as the continent lags other global regions in inoculating against Covid-19.

With only around two percent of the world's total number of shots so far administered, "Africa needs to harness its own continental capabilities and identify opportunities for collaboration across... countries," Ramaphosa told a conference on vaccine production organised by the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).

He said other countries outside the continent "could offer technological expertise, financing and investment", suggesting India and Brazil could help with guidance on how they have developed their own generic pharmaceutical industries.

"We will also need capacity-building in the form of skills and knowledge transfer to ensure we can sustain local manufacturing," Ramaphosa added.

Africa has been the region least affected by the pandemic, with 4.35 million cases and 115,000 deaths among an overall population of 1.2 billion, according to the latest figures from Africa CDC.

But its slow pace of vaccinations has been blamed on inadequate supplies, lack of financing and logistical problems.


Ramaphosa, whose country is Africa's worst hit by the pandemic, recently criticised developed countries for hogging vaccines, warning "vaccine apartheid must come to an end".

Also speaking at Monday's conference, Rwanda's President Paul Kagame said that "vaccine equity" could not be guaranteed by "goodwill alone". 

"Africa needs to and should be capable of producing its own vaccines and medical products," Kagame told attendees.