Presently, 99% of the vaccines that Africa as a continent uses, are manufactured outside of Africa. However, German biotechnology company, BioNTech, is seeking to change that. In June 2022 the ground was broken for a fully modernized mRNA vaccine manufacturing facility in Kigali, the Rwandan capital, which will be the very first mRNA manufacturing plant in the entire continent. And now on March 13th 2023, exactly 3 years after the first Covid-19 case was detected in Rwanda, the “BioNTainer” has arrived in Rwanda, a very important step in making the facility operational. Rwanda’s manufacturing plant is to be operational within a year now that the BioNTainers have arrived, and will staff 100 people by 2024.
The “BioNTainer” is a modular manufacturing facility comprised of 6 shipping container like components, which when put together form the facility. BioNTech posted a video showing a detailed breakdown of the facility and the function of each portion, which may be viewed below.
At a high-level meeting in Marburg we introduced a turnkey #mRNA manufacturing solution called #BioNTainer for scalable vaccine production in Africa. We are working with our country partners& @WHO, @AfricaCDC, AMA and @EU_Commission to establish end-to-end manufacturing network pic.twitter.com/dcQmRVkVJt
— BioNTech SE (@BioNTech_Group) February 16, 2022
Rwanda is receiving two of these highly portable and advanced facilities after they finished construction and underwent quality checks in December, and were then prepared for shipment to Kigali.
BioNTech plans in the future to send BioNTainers to Senegal, and “potentially” South Africa.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame took to twitter, saying the containers arrival is a “historic milestone”.
Historic milestone today as the first @BioNTech_Group BioNTainers arrived in Rwanda, exactly 3 years since the first case of Covid-19 was detected in our country. This system will allow end-to-end mRNA vaccine production in Africa for the first time.
— Paul Kagame (@PaulKagame) March 13, 2023