China is strengthening its support to African countries and regional organisations to fight pandemic

Amid the rapid spread of COVID-19 across the African continent and a growing need for swift response to tackle the virus, the Chinese government and Chinese companies have been praised for offering solidarity and support to Africa’s fight against the pandemic.

According to the latest figures from the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the death toll from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on the African continent reached 16,423 as the number of confirmed cases hit 768,978 as of July 23.

China, which is also presently fighting COVID-19 at home, is strengthening its support to African countries and regional organisations to fight against the virus.

As part of China’s support to Africa’s anti-COVID-19 response efforts, the Chinese medical experts who were on a special mission to help Djiboutian people fight COVID-19 have just left the country on Monday after winning honours for their work. On behalf of the Djiboutian government, Foreign Minister Mahmoud Ali Youssouf and Health Minister Mohamed Warsama Dirieh saw them off at the airport after rewarding them certificates of merit.

The Chinese medical team, composed of 12 experts specialising in respiratory and infectious disease control, intensive care, traditional Chinese medicine, and others, arrived in Djibouti on April 30 after spending about two weeks in Ethiopia, working with Ethiopian colleagues to prevent and control the spread of the novel coronavirus.

To support African countries in their response to COVID-19, the Chinese government has sent medical teams to Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Cote d’Ivoire, Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Algeria.

Besides, there are nearly 1,000 Chinese medical personnel working in Africa long-term, according to China’s National Health Commission. China has sent about 22,000 medical workers accumulatively to Africa during the past decades, and benefited about 220,000,000 local patients in total, according to Chinese Ambassador to Togo Chao Weidong.

During the past months, massive medical supplies donated by the Chinese government and companies have also been distributed to African countries and regions, including facial masks, disposable protective clothing, forehead thermometers, medical protective goggles, gloves and shoe covers for medical use, among other equipment.

High-level African officials and experts, representatives of national and international organisations and offices, diplomats of various African countries, as well as representatives of the African Union (AU) and the Africa CDC, have commended the anti-COVID-19 support offered by the Chinese government and various Chinese companies, which they described as “critical” in containing the rapid increase of COVID-19 across different parts of the African continent.

Dawit Yirga, Director General of Asia and Oceania Affairs at the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that the ever-growing China-Africa strategic partnership has shown vitality and strength amid the common fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Africa and China are all-weather friends and the Sino-Africa strategic partnership has shown vitality and strength in this time of unprecedented challenges,” Yirga said, adding that “solidarity is indeed the bedrock of the Africa-China partnership and when the corona pandemic outbreak happened in China, Africa stood firmly in solidarity with China.”

Yirga, expressing appreciation for the “leadership and commitment of the people and government of China in successfully containing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic,” also stressed that as COVID-19 spreads across the globe including in Africa, China is supporting the African continent.

“We are indeed very grateful to China for its support and solidarity at this difficult moment in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Director General said.

“The support mobilised by the Chinese government and the private sector, including Jack Ma Foundation, to assist the COVID-19 response efforts in Africa, is very much appreciated,” the director general stressed.

Noting China’s “commendable willingness” in sharing its successful experience by sending medical teams to Ethiopian and other African countries, Yirga also expressed his confidence that the “Sino-Africa strategic partnership, which has passed the test of time, will once again prove its resilience.”

The China-aided medical supplies that arrived in Addis Ababa on April 23 were transferred to 12 African countries, including Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, Djibouti, Lesotho, Madagascar, Namibia, Niger, Rwanda, Somalia as well as Zanzibar, it was noted.

Ethiopia has already received medical supplies from China recently, while more is said to be on the way to the East African country, while another batch of China-aided medical supplies has been shipped to some other African countries via Accra, Ghana, earlier last month.

Mafa Sejanamane, Permanent Representative of Lesotho to the AU and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and Ambassador of Lesotho to Ethiopia, also stressed that “China’s support is essential in Africa’s anti-COVID-19 fight.”

Sejanamane, who noted China’s medical supplies aid to African countries as a crucial part of the continent-wide strategy to beat the COVID-19 pandemic, also said that “COVID-19 has brought about the worst crisis in a century. In combating the worst crisis in a century, we need to put our hands together.”

“We are pleased that the Chinese people and government are on the forefront of this particular struggle. With the cooperation of all our international partners, we will be able to triumph,” Sejanamane said.

Tewolde Gebremariam, CEO of Ethiopian Airlines Group, also hailed the China-Africa cooperation and solidarity in the fight against COVID-19, saying that “as an African, I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of all Africans to thank the Chinese government for the generous donation of COVID-19 personal protective equipment and medical supplies.”

“These are lifesaving medical supplies, so speed is very important,” the CEO said, as he emphasised the Ethiopian flag carrier’s resolve to deliver the latest medical supplies “very fast and intact to all African countries.”

“Africa needs China and China needs Africa. We’re in this together in the fight against COVID-19,” Gebremariam said.

In addition to the Chinese government’s solidarity with Africa in the face of COVID-19, Chinese companies and civil organisations are also providing urgently needed supplies to African countries.

The AU Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, has commended the Chinese tech entrepreneur and philanthropist, Jack Ma, following Ma’s latest announcement of the third batch of medical supplies donated by Jack Ma and Alibaba foundations in support of the AU and the Africa CDC’s efforts in containing the spread of COVID-19 across Africa.