As the old saying goes, “a friend in need is a friend indeed”. It is during difficult times when only friends stick with you and pretenders abandon you. The COVID 19 pandemic times have been difficult for all nations and more difficult for Africa which has relatively less resources and expertise to fight the pandemic.
During this time of the pandemic many countries have tended to look inwards towards its citizens and less towards others. This has not been the case for China which has demonstrated willingness to help other countries around the world.
It was Jack Ma Foundation a Chinese billionaire who first indicated would support 54 African countries during the corona virus time. His foundation sent a cargo plane which landed in Ethiopia with 40,000 protective suits, 5.4 million masks, 60,000 protective masks and 1.08 million testing kits all meant for Africa. More help was even to follow after this first consignment. These were being shipped at the time when countries including United States let alone Africa were struggling to get enough testing kits and protective gear to prevent the spread of the Corona Virus (COVID- 19).
The following examples are just a few of the ways China has assisted various African states in their fight against the Corona pandemic and not only looking at its citizens while other resource rich countries were busy concentrating efforts on self-preservation rather than having an outward view of the world at large.
China offered to modernise and improve the African Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and sent technical advisers to work with local African experts.
Different Africa countries have received various assistance ranging from materials to expert advice. South Africa for example, received forehead temperature guns, N95 masks, surgical masks and protective suits from the Chines government.
Nigeria’s ambassador to China Baba Ahmad Jidda, appreciated Chinese assistance for helping his country to fight the war against COVID-19. Chinese business men and companies contributed infrared thermometers, KN95 masks, medical protective suits and medical gloves. China Railway Construction Corp for example sent Doctors and medics with experience in fighting COVID-19 to Nigeria to help with the battle against the pandemic.
When receiving the second batch of medical aids offered by Chinese government to Senegal, Senegalese health minister Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr, on behalf of Senegalese President Macky Sall and Senegalese government, thanked China for the assistance and solidarity it has offered during Senegal’s fight against COVID-19. Jiangsu Provincial Construction Group donated supplies worth 210,000 U.S. dollars to the Senegalese government to help it fight the Corona virus pandemic.
In May 2020, a Chinese team of medical experts arrived in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with an intention to train local medical staff and share Corona Virus epidemic prevention experience. This was at the invitation of the Democratic Republic of Congo president Felix Tshisekedi. The pandemic not only threatens the live of people in DRC but also threatens the sustainability of mining activities in the country which are a major source of the country’s income.
China’s People’s Liberation Army donated Covid-19 prevention and control supplies valued at US$290,000 to the Rwanda Defence Force. During the handover, the Chinese ambassador to Rwanda, Rao Hongwei, indicated that the supplies were meant to support the Rwandan people and its military against the Covid-19 outbreak. The donation comprised of 6,000 surgical masks; 50,000 units of disposable medical masks; 4,200 medical safety goggles; 6,000 medical N95 respirators; 3,000 disposable medical protective face shields; 3,000 disposable one-piece protective gowns; 30 infusion pumps; 3,000 waterproof isolation gowns; 6,000 medical boot covers; 50 disposable nitrile gloves; 50 non-contact forehead infrared thermometers; two knapsack disinfection sprayers (16 litres) and two helmets for infrared thermal imaging temperature measurement.
The Chinese government sent Medical experts and medical supplies to Zimbabwe to help the country fight the Corona pandemic. These were received by Zimbabwe’s Public Works and National Housing Minister July Moyo in presence of other government officials and the Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Guo Shaochun. In his acknowledgement speech, Minister Moyo, thanked the Chinese Government for its continuous assistance towards his country. This comes at the time when the west has imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe, an act that has almost crippled this nation’s economy.
Botswana’s Minister of Health and Wellness Lemogang Kwape and Chinese Ambassador to Botswana Zhao Yanbo received medical donations from the Chinese government to Botswana during May 2020.The donation included 150,000 surgical masks,15,000 protective medical face masks, 5,000 pieces of disposable protective clothing, 3,000 medical protective isolation shoe covers, 7,000 medical protective goggles and 7,000 disposable sterilized rubber surgical gloves.
State-owned China National Electronics Import & Export Corp. (CEIEC) donated equipment and supplies worth US$176,200 to help Angola fight the Corona pandemic. Among the equipment supplied were nine multifunctional cameras which were being installed at the February 4th International Airport in Luanda during May 2020 as part of the precautions the Angolan authorities are taking against the Covid-19 pandemic.
The examples of the assistance given to Africa by the Chinese people and the Chinese government are endless. On the other hand it should be noted that several African countries also supported China since the outbreak of the COVID-19 by providing material and spiritual support. This mutual support and concern for one another is the atmosphere that defines China Africa cooperation, and true friendship.
Mr. George Nsamba is a risk management practitioner
Based in Johannesburg South Africa