Morocco's King Mohammed VI (C) chairs a ceremony to launch the construction of a Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing plant in the region of Benslimane / © Moroccan Royal Palace/AFP
Morocco on Thursday inaugurated construction of an anti-Covid vaccine manufacturing plant in partnership with Swedish firm Recipharm, the official news agency MAP reported.
The factory to be known as Sensyo Pharmatech will produce vaccines against coronavirus and other diseases, with production expected to reach 116 million units in 2024, MAP said.
It was launched in Benslimane, a region of Morocco's economic hub Casablanca during a ceremony attended by King Mohammed VI, it said.
The plant will need investments of between 400-500 million euros ($445 million-$557 million).
It is aimed at ensuring vaccine "self-sufficiency" for the North African kingdom, MAP said.
Its goal is to make, between 2022 and 2025, "active substances for more than 20 vaccines, three of which would be against coronavirus... to cover 70 percent of the kingdom's needs and more than 60 percent of needs across Africa", the agency said.
Morocco is already producing the Chinese anti-Covid Sinopharm vaccine, with more than three million doses being made per month.
By next month it plans on producing five million doses and more than 20 million by the end of the year.
Home to 36 million inhabitants, Morocco is hoping that its vaccination drive will help eradicate Covid-19. More than 23 million people have already received a second dose against coronavirus, according to the health ministry.
Authorities hope to vaccinate 80 percent of the population with either Sinopharm or Pfizer-BioNTech.
In July, Recipharm said it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Morocco and a consortium of the country's leading banks to build a factory to produce vaccines and biotherapeutics in the kingdom.
As part of the deal, it said in a statement at the time, $500 million would be invested into the project by the Moroccan government and consortium.
"The investment is primarily to supply the African continent and help it gain vaccine sovereignty and access to future biotherapeutics," it said.