MmegiOnline: “Masisi’s multi-billionaire vaccine connection vows to deliver”

MmegiOnline’s staff writer reports that Patrick Soon-Shiong, a South African-born multibillionaire based in the US, is vowing to move quickly beyond the agreement he signed recently with Botswana and speedily establish vaccine manufacturing in the country.

While well-meaning Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) have been signed before with little ground or progress made after that, Soon-Shiong has said he intends to have a manufacturing facility operational at the Botswana Digital and Innovation Hub’s Icon Building by 2026. The facility will produce vaccines for COVID-19, cancer as well as next generation cell-based immunotherapies.

The deal with Botswana will involve transfer of the science and technology to Botswana, targeting rollout regionally, continentally and eventually globally. The deal is a scoop for Masisi as Soon-Shiong had been searching out partners for the African rollout.

The two men initially met during Masisi’s trip to the US in September, where Soon-Shiong expressed interest in setting up in Botswana. In a video call set up for the virtual MoU signing, the two men appeared to have built a warm friendship, exchanging pleasantries and sharing observations about empowering Africa through technology transfer.

Besides vaccine manufacturing, Soon-Shiong’s deal with Botswana also includes improving health management systems and sustainable water generation at Lobu Farm as well as the development of the 

Maun Science Park

The deal with the billionaire ticks many boxes for Masisi, who has championed the small stock farm at Lobu and the adoption of higher technology in finding solutions for the country development, also known as the “digital transformation agenda”.