Chinas biotech giant BGI 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 opened our first factory not only in Ethiopia, but also throughout Africa. Now the production capacity for the COVID-19
“We would like to offer localized production in Ethiopia, from which all African countries can also benefit. Our goal is to provide all African countries with affordable artificial test kits to support them in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic”, said Chen.
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 of the Ethiopian government. With the Ethiopian government by our side, we feel a very strong confidence in the fight against COVID-19,” said Chen.
With the COVID-19 test kit facility already receiving glowing remarks from senior Ethiopian government officials, Chen is confident the initiative will diversify its engagements in the post-COVID-19 era.
“After the COVID-19 pandemic is gone, we will focus on making artificial test kits to provide products for HIV / AIDS, tuberculosis (TB), malaria and dengue,” Chen told Xinhua.
The company’s Ethiopian employees state that they have gained knowledge and experience through their employment.
Ethiopian employee Hussein Mohammed, a research and development engineer at the BGI plant in Ethiopia, said the east African country does not have enough medical expertise related to COVID-19 that the new plant will provide.
“We don’t have a lot of expertise about COVID-19, so my long-term goal is to work with BGI Ethiopia and do better than I do now,” Mohammed told Xinhua.
“As an Ethiopian, it is a great honor to work with BGI Ethiopia. Hopefully it will give me a wonderful experience in the future and I will share my experiences with local colleagues,” said Mohammed.
Muhammad’s experience of China’s successful fight against the COVID-19 pandemic extends to his time as a student in Wuhan City, where he witnessed China’s successful anti-COVID-19 efforts first hand.
Mohammed returned to Ethiopia in June after studying for two years in the city of Wuhan. His last six months in Wuhan coincided with the COVID-19 outbreak in the city and later with successfully fighting the disease.
Experts will be working in BGI Ethiopia’s COVID-19 test kit factory in the Bole Lemi industrial park on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, on September 22, 2020. (Xinhua / Wang Shoubao)
“The Chinese government played a huge role in protection during the COVID-19 pandemic. They provided us with free meals when we stayed indoors for more than six months,” Mohammed said.
Importing large numbers of COVID-19 test kits from abroad has also presented Ethiopia with financial and logistical challenges. To date, 69,709 COVID-19 cases and 1,108 COVID-19 deaths have been confirmed.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali spoke at the inauguration of the COVID-19 test kit factory earlier this month that the inauguration of the factory had come at a critical time in the country’s fight against the pandemic.
“Starting production of COVID-19 test kits will increase testing capacity in Ethiopia and other African countries,” Ahmed said.
“The factory will also provide commercial laboratory services for a total of three million transit passengers at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport,” said the Ethiopian Prime Minister.