As Barbados and Rwanda move to strengthen ties, Prime Minister Mia Mottley believes such a partnership will pay dividends within the fight against COVID-19.
During a press conference on the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Center this afternoon, following talks with President of Rwanda Paul Kagame and his team of officials, Mottley said she was particularly excited about the establishment of a COVID-19 manufacturing plant within the African nation.
Consequently, she announced that Minister of Industry, Science and Technology Davidson Ishmael can be travelling to Rwanda with the hope of expanding investment opportunities.
Last October, Rwanda announced it will house a vaccine manufacturing plant using the mRNA technology of the German start-up BioNTech, which co-developed the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. It’s hoped that the development starts no later than mid-2022.
“I feel that this morning that we realized that there may be loads more to share and loads more to do in that area of science and technology and particularly biotech and ICT. I even have agreed that Minister of Industry, Science and Technology Davidson Ishmael, will travel to Rwanda probably with the CEO of Export Barbados for us to see how we are able to tangibly and concretely put in place opportunities for investment and cooperation,” Mottley said.
“Our first interest in fact is in seeing what potential there may be with the vaccine manufacturing entity that Rwanda is establishing, recognising that the vaccine for COVID is only one small commodity of what that manufacturing capability will be for.”
Moreover, Mottley said the partnership between the 2 countries would end in a major boost in Barbados’ technology and sciences sector.
“Barbados has produced 6,000 graduates in the realm of science from the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies here within the last five years and while there may be absolute mobility in teaching we recognize that that just isn’t the one purpose that individuals would need to use a science degree and subsequently now we have a solemn obligation to having the ability to construct a platform for biotechnology and ICT and science and technology generally.
“Against that backdrop, now we have agreed this morning to the signing of the Cooperation Agreement to quite a lot of things. Our two countries had a Double Taxation Agreement that was signed some years ago with the ratification I used to be told is now in place. We are going to start discussions towards a Bilateral Investment Treaty in addition to towards a Multilateral Air Services Agreement. I feel all of us agree and we’re coming closer I hope to its resolution that there should be air connectivity between the continent of Africa and the Caribbean region…” the Prime Minister noted.
Kagame said he welcomed the increased cooperation between his country and Barbados.
He said he was honoured that Mottley can be visiting Rwanda in June because the African nation celebrates 60 years of independence.
Kagame said direct travel between Africa and the Caribbean was critical as there was a “huge interest” in individuals from Africa connecting with the region.
He said discussions related to travel and visa waivers had already taken place.
“We’re already too late in a way nevertheless it isn’t too late to connect with make friends and partnerships so we definitely want to try this…” Kagame said.