November 30, 2023

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Global Gateway: MSc and PhD programmes in Biotechnology launched in partnership between Team Europe and University of Rwanda

A new MSc programme in Biotechnology was launched today in Rwanda to ensure sustainable local production and improved access to quality-assured vaccines, medicines and health technologies in Africa.

In its agenda vision 2050, the Government of Rwanda sets a pathway that will lead the country to living standards of upper middle-income countries by 2035 and high-income countries by 2050. Rwanda is hence targeting to develop high-growth knowledge-driven sectors which can enable the envisioned rapid social economic transformation, while providing the necessary conditions to build required industrial research and development (R&D) capability, including a competent workforce.  

The MSc in Biotechnology programme, hosted by the University of Rwanda, responds to that vision and has been developed in the broader human capital development program which includes also training of PhDs in Biotechnology.  

The launch of the programme also follows Government of Rwanda’s vision to become a regional hub for next-generation biomanufacturing. This is supported by the Team Europe’s initiative on manufacturing and access to vaccines, medicines and health technologies in Africa (MAV+) under the EU Global Gateway strategy. At continental level, it equally represents a milestone under the talent development bold programme of the Partnerships for African Vaccine Manufacturing (PAVM).

The Ambassador of the European Union to Rwanda, Belén CALVO UYARRA, stated, “The EU in Rwanda and Team Europe are proud to announce the launch of the MSc and PhD programmes in biotechnology at the University of Rwanda. It brings together the expertise of EU member states’ universities to train the future Rwandan workforce on academic and industrial aspects of biotechnology, vaccine development and manufacturing. It is also another important milestone displaying EU’s full commitment to boost local manufacturing capacities in Africa and strengthen pharmaceutical systems and health equity.” 

The MSc programme, supported through the Kwigira programme of the European Union in Rwanda and Enabel – the Belgian development agency, will be implemented in partnership with different European universities as well as other global academic and research networks.  

In his remarks, Bert Versmessen, Ambassador of Belgium to Rwanda said: “The launch ofthis MSc PhD program is a showcase of what Team Europe can contribute to Rwanda’sambitions in the biotech sector. The first seed of cooperation between Belgian universitiesand the University of Rwanda was planted 5 years ago with Belgian development funding.Other universities from France and Cameroon have joined the initiative and the EU steppedin with additional funding to turn this into a full-fledged educational program. The studentsgoing through this program will become the human capital required to turn Rwanda into abiotech pioneer on the continent.”

Developing a pole of competence in biotechnology is one of the toolkits that would strengthen higher learning, research and innovation, and position the country as a benchmark for the sub-region in the field of biotechnology, in particular by promoting the generation and production of added value bio-products and bio-processes of economic importance.  

“The programme launched today will serve as backbone support for the Government
of Rwanda’s strategic initiative to establish a biomanufacturing plant to supply the country and continent. Skills delivered through the course will have growing impact on climate change and climate-resilient agriculture” said, Rwandan Minister of State Hon. Dr. Yvan Butera.  

25 students (medical doctors, biologists, pharmacists) will be recruited for the MSc programme each intake, aiming to train 100 skilled MSc graduates in 4 years. 5 PhD candidates will also be supported. Lecturers from European countries will provide distance and onsite training, with a common core in the first year and internship training/research responding to local health needs in the second year.  

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