BY AMBROSE GAHENE
President Yoweri Museveni, accompanied by Kenya’s Deputy President, William Ruto on Tuesday laid a foundation stone for the construction of biological drugs and mRNA Vaccine manufacturing facility at Matugga, in Wakiso District.
While addressing guests at the launch, President Museveni said Africa’s pathogenic economy, which offers huge economic opportunities, is being taken advantage of by others and Africa is totally absent.
“I have been telling you about what Magoola and Musenero are calling the pathogenic economy. The economy, diseases, germs, protozoa and all those health problems to us are also economic opportunities being taken advantage of by others.
“Africans are totally absent. That is why we have a shortage of vaccines in the whole of Africa,” he said.
Museveni added that Ugandan scientists are working on another type of vaccine at the virus centre after they succeeded in getting the green monkey cells that are key for virus multiplication in vaccine production.
He said one of the things they were looking for was the green monkey cells which can grow well for the virus like Covid.
“My people have been looking for them but they were nowhere, even in South Africa, Morocco and Egypt. They had to go somewhere. Other people took them and multiplied them but have them now. It is going to be the first time these cells are being used in a laboratory in Africa to multiply the virus for the vaccines.
“This shows you how Africa is sleeping. Africa has got everything but is simply sleeping,” he said.
President Museveni also said he is optimistic that Africa will grow and overtake other groups of people in a short time.
“China is the second biggest economy in the world now. In the 1960s, it was very far. Africa is a huge giant but asleep. Thank you very much for waking up people who have been sleeping.”
President Museveni hailed Mr Ruto whom he described as ‘a very committed East African’ for working with the Equity Bank to secure funding for the project
Mr Museveni added that a revolution is taking place in Africa and in terms of biodiversity it is unrivalled. He stressed that Pharmaceutical companies are in the right place here.
“My role is that I come from the traditional way to introduce you to the modern way and get synthesis. One of our scientists, Prof. Ogwang is producing something for Corona but it is not his, it’s for the community. There are so many things here.
“There is a lot of medicine in plants; we are just scratching the surface. This facility is at the right place at the right time,” he pointed out.
Mr Ruto said he was representing East Africans living in Kenya as a demonstration of brotherhood of East African nations.
Ruto said the investment is significant in three fundamentals including that Magoola, who is the brain behind the multibillion investment is an East African and a Ugandan.He said; ordi narily, investments of this magnitude have white faces. “
“It is people from Europe and America who engage in these investments. Congratulations to Magoola. We are proud of you as an East African that the language you are speaking of billions of dollars, we are domesticating it in our continent.
“It is new but we have champions like you who are daring to walk the journey to invest in the space and magnitude that we have witnessed,” he said.
Ruto said Magoola, is lucky because he has a great mentor and leader who has provided support and for this investment to take place
“That you speak straight and encourage East Africans to invest here in East Africa goes a long way to change the destiny of our region and you have our support.
“Africa was a continent of conflict, war and disease by description of others but we are describing it as a continent of opportunity,” Mr Ruto said.
“It is very reassuring that citizens of this continent, especially East Africans like Magoola, are turning challenges to opportunity. Africa will be a place producing medicine and drugs that will not only deal with challenges of health but also supply the rest of the globe.
“It is a gratifying moment that Africa can no longer be a source of problems but the source of solutions not only for African issues but globally,” he further stressed.