Rwanda is about to hit a new milestone with the entry into operation of Apex Biotech, its first pharmaceutical plant. Initially announced for April, the launching of activities was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The announcement comes in a timely fashion since the pandemic has highlighted the need for Rwanda to reduce its dependence on the outside world for pharmaceutical products. According to authorities, the importation of drugs contributes greatly to the country’s trade deficit, which the government has been trying to close for several years.
The new plant owned by Rwandan and Bangladeshi investors is located in the special economic zone of Kigali, the capital. With an annual production capacity of 800 million packets of tablets, 200 million capsules, 8 million bottles and 5 million sachets of Oral Rehydration Therapy (ORT)), it is expected to help reduce the drug import bill by 10 to 20%.
“We are now looking at mid-September to start operations because everything is in place- raw materials are on the ground, and machines are already installed,” Herbeton Madari, co-founder of Apex Biotech, told The New Times Rwanda. “We are starting with 10 and will gradually add more, and also the capacity/scale as time goes on. Within six months we shall be producing all the 34 items at a much higher scale,” he added.
According to the project managers, 80% of the staff is planned to be recruited from Rwanda while the remaining 20% will be expatriate managers who will train the local workforce. In the need to supply the East African market, Rwanda should soon inaugurate a second pharmaceutical plant, this time developed by the Moroccan group Cooper Pharma.