Princely Belgian delegation visits Institut Pasteur de Dakar where Unizima supports the establishment of MADIBA, a new world-class vaccine manufacturing facility in Senegal.

Her Royal Highness Princess Astrid is currently presiding over the first royal Belgian mission to Senegal from May 21 until May 25.

This economic mission has been organized by the Foreign Trade Agency, the three regional Belgian agencies for the promotion of foreign trade and investment, and the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs to strengthen collaborations between both countries to support Senegal’s economic strategy “Plan Senegal Emergent”.

As part of the mission, the delegation made it a point to go to the new city of Diamniadio near Dakar to learn more about one of Unizima’s flagship projects, providing technical support to build the “MADIBA facility” (Manufacturing in Africa for Disease Immunization and Building Autonomy). This ground-breaking site will soon become a world-class vaccine manufacturing facility in Senegal with a capacity to produce up to 300 million doses per year, equipped with Univercells Group next-generation technology for vaccine manufacturing.

The African continent currently imports nearly 99% of the vaccines it needs. The MADIBA project aims to expand overall capacity and deliver on its mandate to achieve Senegal’s national bioproduction goals to meet the target set by the African Union and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) to develop, produce and supply more than 60% of the vaccine doses that the continent will need by 2040. The project is therefore vital to Senegal and the West Africa region, as it will bring autonomy and access to local populations, as well as creating high skilled jobs and training opportunities for local and regional graduates.

The visit of HRH Princess Astrid also marks two years of collaboration between all the partners involved in the MADIBA project to help realise the vision of Institut Pasteur de Dakar (IPD), to produce a modular and flexible facility that can supply the region’s demand for routine immunisation programmes as well as respond to emergency needs in case of epidemic outbreaks and pandemics.

Among these partners, Unizima and MyEngineering were in Dakar and honoured to host the visit with IPD. They each bring their own, unique expertise into the project with the ambition to create a current Good Manufacturing Production (cGMP) facility that will operate as a CDMO for drug substance and drug product manufacturing. The facility will also use state-of-the-art equipment to optimize its production, product quality, and efficiency, including Univercells Technologies’Scale-X™ bioreactors. As HRH Princess Astrid and the delegation entered the facility, which is currently under construction, each partner explained their specific involvement and unique expertise for the project to be a success.

While Univercells Group’s affiliates supply equipment and technology to IPD, Unizima’s embedded team supports the project by providing services and expertise on the ground in Dakar and from Belgium. The Unizima team has helped set up the early phases of the project, providing key support to leadership through project management. Unizima also provides recruitment, planning, and procurement support and experts on the ground to accelerate technical capabilities and operational readiness on site. Through the MADIBA project, Unizima has set a reputation for itself and the Univercells Group as a strategic and reliable partner in building innovative biomanufacturing projects.

Already, and while the building of Madiba progresses, vaccine products are being developed out of Dakar. Thanks to the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, IPD announced a program for the in-house development and manufacturing of a Measles and Rubella vaccine in October 2022 at the Madiba facilities. This low-cost vaccine will be produced using Batavia Biosciences’ Hip-Vax intensified production process and Univercells Technologies’ NevoLine™ and Scale-X™ platforms. Unizima is providing project delivery and tech transfer services and enabling upskilling of IPD staff on the fundamentals of vaccine production including process validation and maintenance, drug substance, quality, and advisory services needed to ensure readiness for tech transfer.

MyEngineering is supporting IPD in the design and construction of its new state-of-the-art facility.

During the visit, HRH Princess Astrid was also accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hadja Lahbib, the Vice-President of the Wallonia Willy Borsus, as well as Brussels Secretary of State, Pascal Smet.

Hala Audi, Chief Executive Officer of Unizima commented: “I am particularly proud to contribute to this major project in a country with which Unizima has a special relationship. The MADIBA project, led by the Pasteur Institute of Dakar, proves that a decentralized production model, where local facilities respond to local demand for vaccines, is the most sustainable way to ensure access to essential medicines around the world. This is also at the heart of the mission of the Univercells Group and its affiliate Unizima, namely "biologics for all”.


Willy Borsus, Vice-President of the Walloon Government and Minister for the Economy, Foreign Trade, Research, Innovation, Digital, Spatial Planning, Agriculture, IFAPME, and Competence Centers, added: “I am honoured to be here in Senegal, a country that has many assets, the MADIBA project is only one example. As Vice-President of Wallonia, I have been following Univercells, and its affiliate Unizima, closely for many years. It is no longer a secret that Wallonia and Belgium are renowned for their biotechnologies at a global level. I am delighted to see that a large-scale project is being developed in Africa, involving a Walloon company, and we will follow the evolution of this project closely.»

Jimmy Vandenbranden, Co-Founder of MyEngineering continued: “As one of the founders of MyEngineering, I want to highlight the collaboration between Unizima and MyEngineering into the ground-breaking MADIBA project for Institut Pasteur de Dakar. Overcoming the challenges of long-distance work and operating in Senegal, this partnership has been a testament to our unwavering dedication and professionalism. The project’s innovative nature underscores our shared commitment to pushing boundaries and driving advancements in the pharmaceutical industry in Senegal. We are proud to be part of this transformative endeavour, leveraging our expertise and resources to deliver the best result.”

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Unizima at MADIBA, Senegal