United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)

Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Vera Songwe, on Tuesday commended Chinese support to Africa’s anti-COVID-19 response efforts as she called on further strengthening the Sino-Africa cooperation against the pandemic.

Noting the anti-COVID-19 medical and Personal Protective Equipment support from the Chinese government and enterprises, such as the Jack Ma and Alibaba foundations, to African countries and pan African organization, the ECA chief said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua on Tuesday that “all these supports are very important.”

“There is also a lot of collaboration going between China and Africa on the health research side and that’s also very important,” Songwe said.

Songwe also commended China for “all the support to Africa in fighting the pandemic,” as she emphasized the importance of further strengthening the China-Africa partnership in order to enabling African countries with much-needed financial space to manage the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.

The ECA chief also emphasized ongoing partnership among the ECA and Chinese enterprises, such as Ant Financial — an affiliate of the Alibaba Group — under the Electronic World Trading Platform (eWTP) initiative.

“At the ECA, we have done some work with Ant Financial on electronic trading to see whether we can keep businesses open during this crisis, and I think that is powerful because it will put resources into the hands of the poor, particularly women farmers in the continent” Songwe said.

“This kind of direct support, even though it’s not health-related, is very important because it gives small and medium enterprises incomes and resources,” she said.

Songwe also called on the G20 countries to further strengthen their support to Africa’s COVID-19 pandemic response efforts, as she also emphasized urgency in the implementation of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) that was passed by the Group of Twenty (G20) countries to support Africa’s liquidity needs in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Africa needs to buy test kits, Africa needs to buy Personal Protective Equipments and Africa needs resources very quickly because we don’t have time to study the issue,” Songwe said, adding that “we want every country to participate, not to think about it and work on it, but actually do it.”

As of Tuesday, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases across the African continent has surged to 1,055,964 across the continent as the death toll from the pandemic rose to 23,582, according to the latest figures from the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).

The Africa CDC also said that some 744,438 COVID-19 patients have also recovered from the virus across the continent so far.

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