African Union Special Envoy for COVID-19 and Pan-African businessman Strive Masiyiwa has spoken on the role he played in helping put together an agreement signed early this week for Johnson & Johnson (J&J) to manufacture 400 million doses of vaccines for Africa, worth nearly US$4 billion.
Writing to his over 5.6 million Facebook followers, the Econet group founder and billionaire entrepreneur said every entrepreneur must make the transition from “How do we fix this?” to “I can fix it”.
So for those of you who missed it yesterday, here’s a #Breaking News message, especially for Rachael Mwikali, in Kenya, and for all nurses and doctors of Africa.
Since you are a nurse fighting COVID every day of your life, I want to share it with you here, and thank you for all you and your colleagues are doing!
Two things happened this week (Monday 29 March) which bring closer our ability to end this pandemic in Africa:
#1. An African company called Aspen Pharmacare, based in Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth) in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, began to produce Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Yes, they will be producing 1 million doses per day, or 250 million per year.
These are single dose vaccines.
On Monday President Ramaphosa officially commissioned the manufacturing plant. You can see it on Sasai Watch. I had the privilege of being invited to witness and speak at the event. In my case it was virtual.
I had wanted to go, but I was too busy doing what you will see in #2.
#2. Knowing that Africa was now in a position to produce vaccines, my colleagues and I wanted to make sure that the company received an order to supply all African countries.
So, guess what? We placed an order for 400 million doses! This will cost almost US$4bn, and we have already provided the first US$2bn.
Rachael, your country Kenya ordered 20 million doses! I had to sign the order in my capacity as AU Special Envoy.
Something like this takes months and months of work.
The team of us working on this – which includes Dr John Nkengasong, the head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control, Dr Vera Songwe the head of UN Economic Commission for Africa and a UN Assistant Secretary General, and Prof Benedict Oramah, head of the Afrexim Bank – met EVERYDAY, SOMETIMES EVEN ON WEEKENDS, FOR MORE THAN SIX MONTHS!
With us were more than 20 experts in banking, legal and virology (scientists on viruses) assigned to work on the project.
Now Africa is manufacturing its own vaccine!
This is #HOW WE FIX THIS!
Now I know that some people don’t want to hear about vaccines. And I will never try to persuade them, and certainly don’t want anyone to force people to take them.
Last night we were back at work, meeting as we have done every day, and will do until this thing is defeated.
It is not the time we spend in the news headlines that matters, but the time we spend working to fix something that matters.
[For more on this story, visit Strive Masiyiwa’s Facebook blog on: