Cuba, Venezuela build biotech plants in Africa


 Cuba began construction of the third of three biotech plants in West Africa this week, as part of a trilateral program funded by Venezuela to battle malaria in the region.


Ahead of a groundbreaking ceremony in the capital of Ghana on Aug. 5, officials of Cuba, Venezuela and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) met to discuss feasibility, cost, and investment architecture of the program, ECOWAS said in a press release. Another meeting is planned for Venezuela.


Venezuela, Cuba and African countries as well as ECOWAS have been negotiating the creation of a multilateral fund for cooperation on health, education, agriculture, energy and infrastructure.


The ceremony in Accra was attended by the president and health minister of Ghana, as well as the president of the ECOWAS Commission.


Under a malaria elimination campaign administered by ECOWAS, Cuba is in charge of building and operating biolarvicide plants in Ghana, Nigeria and Ivory Coast. A biolarvicide developed by Cuban state company Labiofam is central to the campaign. Malaria kills thousands of Africans every year, producing a negative economic impact of $12 billion.


The facility in Accra is the third of three plants Cuba is setting up in the region. Under an agreement signed with the government of Ghana in 2011, state company Grupo Empresarial Labiofam is expanding a malaria-fighting program begun in 2006 around Accra to the entire country.


Labiofam has already built two biolarvicide plants in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, and in Côte d’Ivoire that will supply the ECOWAS program in those markets.


A similar Cuban plant just built in Tanzania is partially funded by South Africa.


Labiofam exports Cuba-made biolarvicides Bactivec and GriselESF to a dozen developing countries; the company also set up a joint venture manufacturing facility in Brazil. (Taken from RHC-CUBA STANDARD)