African biotech company 54gene has built and donated 2 new mobile laboratories to Lagos and Ogun States, increasing the total network of molecular laboratories in the country to 17.
The company has also announced similar plans to donate another mobile laboratory to Kano State, where the number of confirmed cases also appears to be on the rise.
According to the statement on the company’s website, these laboratories were made possible through a partnership with First City Monument Bank (FCMB), Ogun State government, and other partners.
“This pilot was launched in collaboration with First City Monument Bank and Ogun State government, and made possible through the support of our partners: Argentil Capital Partners, Arnergy Solar limited, Tempohousing Nigeria and Wild fusion. We express our immense gratitude for their help in making this a reality,” the statement read.
While FCMB and Argential Capital Partners are the financial partners for the project, Arnerg Solar Ltd, a Nigerian renewable energy company, will provide a steady power supply to the facility through a 10kVA solar power solution.
How the funds were raised
In March, 54gene launched a fund targeted at increasing Nigeria’s testing ability for COVID-19, and within the last month, it accrued up to $500,000 in donations from private sector participants.
Each mobile laboratory is a 40ft container structure, designed as a plug and play feature that minimizes the time and cost challenges of shipping samples from one location to the other for processing.
“Our mobile laboratory is fully kitted with vital instruments including an autoclave, biosafety cabinet, centrifuge, heating blocks, vortexes, pipettes, and PCR machines to support COVID-19 testing.
“We have also helped build capacity by equipping molecular scientists with the necessary skill set required to handle the instruments in the mobile lab as they would in regular molecular testing laboratories,” the statement said.
The company noted that with the cost saved on such logistics, the health agencies could channel funds to procure more test equipment and personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers.
With this development, 54gene’s mobile laboratories have become the first accredited private facilities to join the network of COVID-19 testing centers in Nigeria.
The first set of testing in the facility started in Ogun state on Monday, 27 April 2020.