WATCH: China is lending Africa a hand during the Covid-19 pandemic

By Shannon Ebrahim Time of article published May 7, 2020

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China has proven its resolve to assist the African continent with combating the scourge of Covid-19. We have identified five major interventions which China has made in Africa to beat back the pandemic.

China is improving and modernising the African Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has deployed a senior technical adviser to African CDC to work closely with local experts.

China has provided significant consignments of medical supplies to African countries. The Chinese billionaire and co-founder of Alibaba Group, Jack Ma, has donated medical supplies to 54 African countries and delivered the supplies to Addis Ababa.

The AU and Ethiopian Airlines will help distribute the supplies to member states. Tewolde Gebremariam, chief executive of the Ethiopian Airlines Group, said that the Chinese donation is an exemplary move, demonstrating collaboration and joint efforts in the battle against the pandemic.

These include 5.4million masks, with a further 600000 to be delivered, 1.8million detection kits, 40000 sets of protective clothing and 60000 face shields. This is much-needed assistance at a time when the US and Europe are primarily concerned with the supplies they need for their own populations.

China has also provided 1000 reagent testing kits to Namibia’s health ministry, and 40 tons of medical supplies to Ghana.

The Chinese central and local governments and medical institutions have provided 7550 nucleic acid testing reagents, 20000 N95 masks, 100000 surgical masks, 2000 sets of protective suits and goggles, 10000 pairs of gloves and shoe covers, 500 forehead temperature guns and other medical supplies to South Africa, part of which have been delivered.

China’s Zhejiang province has donated 60000 masks to its sister province in South Africa, the Eastern Cape, and Guangdong province is also preparing to provide supplies to KZN.

Residents of the Sjwetla informal settlement on the outskirts of Alexandra township in Johannesburg outside their homes. China has provided significant consignments of medical supplies to African countries, which could benefit communities such as this. Picture: Jerome Delay/AP

The Chinese business community mobilised resources to revamp Wilkins Hospital in 10 days by improving dilapidated infrastructure and adding intensive care beds. China has also built a much-lauded massive field hospital in Senegal.

China continues to share medical expertise on Covid-19 with the continent. China’s Centre for Disease Control had an emergency conference with representatives of 24 African countries.

According to China’s National Health Commission, there are almost 1000 Chinese medical personnel working in Africa, and the agency has directed them to help local health organisations stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Jiang Yuandong, a member of the Chinese medical team in Zimbabwe, has trained more than 140 health workers and introduced China’s experience in containing the outbreak. He also gave a lecture to Zimbabwe’s ministry of health officials and medical personnel to improve their understanding of the disease.

The Chinese Embassy invited experts from Shanghai to hold a video conference with South African health officials and World Health Organisation representatives in Africa to share experiences in epidemic prevention and control.

China has also provided the South African Department of Health with the Novel coronavirus Pneumonia Prevention and Control Manual and participated in a video conference on international diplomacy in the fight against Covid-19 organised by the South African Department of Science and Innovation, to share the experiences of Chinese scientists.

Chinese enterprises and communities in African countries have mobilised resources to assist their host governments in the fight against Covid-19.

The Chinese community in South Africa has generously donated R3million to the South African government, of which R1m came from technology firm Huawei. Huawei is also willing to help South Africa fight the epidemic using 5G technology.

Recently, Huawei South Africa, Bank of China Johannesburg branch, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Africa office, China Construction Bank Johannesburg branch and other Chinese enterprises donated more than 1.3million surgical masks, as well as protective suits, goggles, ventilators and other supplies to South Africa.

Chinese businesses have provided 550 testing reagents to South Africa and the Chinese government will provide 5000 more. The Chinese embassy has co-ordinated Chinese enterprises in South Africa to provide raw materials for mask manufacturers and supported local Chinese to order mask production equipment from China, which has already arrived.

It is estimated that the daily production of masks will be about 150000 after it is put into operation.

A Chinese mask company in Durban urgently ordered mask production equipment from China to expand production capacity and donated all the masks they produced to South Africa. The provincial government and police of KwaZulu-Natal have received 30000 masks donated by the factory.

* Ebrahim is Independent group foreign editor

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