China’s biotech giant BGI Genomics opens COVID-19 test kit plant in Ethiopia

EHIOPIA – Chinas biotech giant BGI Genomics Company has opened a COVID-19 test kit factory in Bole Lemi industrial park on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

It is the Chinese company’s first-ever plant in Africa.

Chen Songheng, General Manager of BGI Ethiopia, a subsidiary company of China’s biotech giant BGI Genomics Co. is optimistic about Ethiopia’s anti-COVID-19 fight.

“We have opened our first factory not only in Ethiopia but also in the whole of Africa. Now the capacity of production for the COVID-19 test kits is about six million test kits per year,” Chen told Xinhua.

“We would like to provide localized production in Ethiopia that can also benefit all African countries. Our aim is to make affordable artificial test kits to all African countries to help them in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic,” Chen added.

Chen also applauded the Ethiopian government’s high-level support to the new COVID-19 test kit factory showcased with the inauguration of the factory by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on September 13.

“We appreciate the support from the Ethiopian government. With the Ethiopian government alongside us we feel a very strong confidence in the fight against COVID-19,” said Chen.

With the COVID-19 test kit plant already receiving glowing remarks from high-level Ethiopian government officials, Chen feels confident that the initiative will diversify its engagements in the post-COVID-19 era.

“After the COVID-19 pandemic disappears, we will focus on the artificial test kits production to provide products for the likes of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB), malaria, and dengue fever,” Chen added.

BGI Ethiopia’s work currently is not solely restricted to the production of COVID-19 test kits, with Ethiopian staff of the firm gaining knowledge and experience through their employment as the East African country lacks sufficient medical expertise relating to COVID-19, which the new factory will provide.

The BGI Ethiopia COVID-19 test kit factory, located inside the Bole Lemi industrial park on the outskirts of Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, is expected to help save much-needed foreign currency that the Ethiopian government spends towards importing test kits.

“The commencement of COVID-19 test kits production will boost the testing capacity of Ethiopia and other African countries. The factory will additionally provide commercial laboratory services for a total of three million transit passengers at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport”

Abiy Ahmed – Prime Minister, Ethiopia

The importation of vast majority of COVID-19 test kits from abroad has been also causing financial and logistical challenges to most African countries including Ethiopia, which has so far confirmed 69,709 COVID-19 cases and 1,108 COVID-19 related deaths.

Speaking at the COVID-19 test kit factory inauguration event earlier this month, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali said the factory’s inauguration came at a critical juncture in the country’s fight against the pandemic.

“The commencement of COVID-19 test kits production will boost the testing capacity of Ethiopia and other African countries,” Ahmed had said.

“The factory will additionally provide commercial laboratory services for a total of three million transit passengers at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport,” said the Ethiopian premier added.

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