The Deputy Speaker of Parliament Rt. Hon. Thomas Tayebwa asks government to implement public-private partnerships with local investors who are venturing into vaccine manufacturing to ensure the availability of stock at any given time.
Tayebwa who toured the Vaccine Access Initiative (VAI) plant and stores run by local investors in Kampala said that such ventures require government support through affordable credit funding and grant of leased land to enhance the expansion of production facilities.
“We will ask the government to partner with you because beyond purchasing your medicine, we should provide affordable financial support and reduce your business’ debt burden through the government’s import substitution strategy. This would help the venture to avoid high commercial credit interest rates” Tayebwa said.
The Vaccine Access Initiative plant launched early last month by Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja has the capacity to vaccinate at least 4,000 clients per day and has a storage capacity of over 20 million doses.
Dr Cedric Akwesigye the VAI Director revealed that the plant is set to start manufacturing vaccines in the country.
The Deputy Speaker who was impressed with the setup of the plant promised to advocate for VAI to ensure they access affordable credit from the Uganda Development Bank (UDB) and also to push for access to government incentives for manufacturers like grant of land through the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA).
“We will talk to UDB so that they can support you because vaccines that are going to be manufactured here are the same we have been importing. We have invested highly in UDB and as Parliament, we have supported all funding requests for UDB and our target was to support people like you. Sometimes you have not been visible but now I have seen” the Deputy Speaker promised.
Tayebwa also promised to arrange meetings between VAI, State Minister for Investment Evelyn Anite and the top management of UIA so that land for expansion is provided.
The government through UIA provides land and does feasibility studies for investors who successfully pitch investment plans that are deemed fit for industrialization.
Tayebwa also expressed gratitude to the company for tapping in the locally developed skills because there were no foreign expatriates at the plant when he visited it.
Dr Akwesigye told the Deputy Speaker that the company indeed plans to expand and will be based on the government’s allocation of land to embark on phase two of the project which is bigger than what has so far been put on the ground.
“We have over 10 products where we have signed partnership agreements with companies in the US and China that have big manufacturing capacity but they want money to come and invest here. For phase two we are actually coming for land because we don’t have enough” said Akwesigye.
“We haven’t received any funding from the government. However, what we are suffering from is the delay to implement the Presidential directive. I am very happy and thank you so much for committing to push to the end so that we see results” he noted.
The Deputy Speaker promised to follow up on the Presidential directive on financial support for the initiative through off-take funds so that the company can meet its primary objective.