President Paul Kagame has welcomed the arrival of a consignment of the first BioNTainer facilities in the country, paving the way for production of a range of mRNA-based vaccines The development means Rwanda could soon pioneer manufacturing of mRNA-based vaccines in Africa. Containers of the first BioNTainers- facilities equipped to manufacture a range of mRNA-based vaccines- arrived at the Kigali International Airport (KIA) at around 2 pm, marking a huge milestone in a continent that currently imports 99 percent of the vaccines its people consume. “Historic milestone today as the first BioNTech BioNTainers arrived in Rwanda,” Kagame said in a tweet. The shipment, he said, comes exactly 3 years since the first case of Covid-19 was detected in Rwanda. “This system will allow end-to-end mRNA vaccine production in Africa for the first time,” he pointed out. According to BioNTech, this is the next milestone reached by the firm in the establishment of scalable mRNA vaccine production in Africa. In December 2022, the firm announced on its official website that the six ISO-sized shipping containers for the first BioNTainer constructed in Europe, underwent quality checks by BioNTech experts, and are being prepared for shipment to Kigali. In parallel, BioNTech said it continued to develop and build its state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Kigali following its groundbreaking in June 2022. The facility will be housing the first BioNTainers and is expected to become a node in a decentralized and robust end-to-end manufacturing network in Africa. “Our thanks and appreciation to Uğur Şahin, Özlem Türeci, Sierk Pötting and the whole team for the outstanding partnership, as well as to Kenup foundation, team Europe.....for key support,” Kagame reiterated. The German-based company is still working to build its own manufacturing base in Kigali, where the first BioNTainers will be stationed. Aside from Kigali, BioNTech says it plans to ship BioNTainers to Senegal and “potentially” South Africa. Aside from COVID vaccines, BioNTech is also using its mRNA platform to advance malaria and tuberculosis vaccine candidates. Eventually, BioNTech says it hopes to produce those vaccines with its BioNTainers. The Kigali site is expected to hire a staff of 100 by 2024. BioNTech has said vaccine production should begin within a year of delivery of the BioNTainers.