Chinese engagement drives Africa’s anti-COVID-19 momentum – expert

Makeshift Hospital
Photo taken on Aug. 1, 2020 shows the interior of a makeshift hospital for COVID-19 patients at the AsiaWorld-Expo, a venue near the Hong Kong International Airport, in south China's Hong Kong. (Xinhua/Wu Xiaochu)

The engagement of the Chinese government and enterprises has been a major driving force to Africa’s fight against the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, an Ethiopian scholar said on Friday.

“The Chinese support to African countries, mainly in terms of providing COVID-19 testing kits, protective equipment and experience sharing, has been really commendable,” Costantinos Bt. Costantinos, who served as an economic advisor to the African Union (AU) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), told Xinhua on Friday.

“China’s anti-pandemic cooperation with Africa has been heralded very much. The Chinese billionaire Jack Ma has been sending COVID-19 preventive materials to all African countries and hospitals. The Chinese government has been also assisting a lot of African countries,” Costantinos told said.

“African Countries should be thankful for this because China is sharing its experiences, sending its own medical personnel here to be able to help with this pandemic, and this might have contributed in a big way why Africa is having fewer infections than other continents and fewer deaths than others,” he added.

Costantinos, also professor of public policy at the Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, said that China, which is also fighting the pandemic at home, has been a great help to African countries in the fight against the pandemic as well as the anti-COVID-19 engagements of major pan-African institutions, such as the African Union (AU) Commission and its specialized healthcare agency the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).

Noting Ethiopia’s successful cooperation with China in the fight against the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the expert stressed that the Chinese engagement in Ethiopia’s anti-pandemic efforts could depict China’s overall cooperation with Africa.

“In Ethiopia for instance, we have less than 1,000 deaths, which is a rate less than what The United States losing every day. So this cooperation, if it continues, will provide the basis for what we call a sustainable health system we opt to produce in Africa,” Costantinos said.

The scholar also noted that the China-Africa anti-pandemic cooperation could also be seen as the symbol of China’s overall engagement with Africa over the past couple of decades.

“This cooperation shows that China is not only providing money to Africa, within three decades China had reached what the West has taken three centuries,” he said.

“It’s the experience of China – in terms of poverty reduction, in terms of economic development, in terms of industrial development, and in terms of creating the supply chain management systems – to be able to produce a human resource that’s adequate to do development and the mix of production – mainly the industries, factories, and agricultural fields – that are important we need to mix together and bring in development,” he added.

“This is what China has done; and it’s that experience we are learning from China now. I hope many African countries can learn from this,” the scholar argued.

On Friday, the Africa CDC disclosed that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases across the African continent reached 1,275,815 as the death toll from the ongoing pandemic also rose to 30,596.

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