China said it would offer aid and assistance to its African trade partners in their prolonged battle with the Covid-19 pandemic. It has also committed to build on existing economic partnerships across the continent.
Speaking at the virtual China-Africa Cooperation summit on 27 August, Zhao Xiyuan, an official from China’s embassy to Kenya, told an audience of African and Chinese experts that with the virus largely eradicated from mainland China, the Chinese government had resources to assist with Africa’s continued effort to flatten curves, clear ICUs and recover economically.
The summit, part of the Forum of China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) which held its first meeting two decades ago in Beijing, saw experts from both continents discuss means to combat the Covid-19 pandemic (which is still widely prevalent across the continent), and boost domestic manufacturing capacity and output.
In South Africa, Li Nan, Charge De Affair of the Chinese Ambassador to the Southern African nation, oversaw a large donation of medical supplies to the nation. Beijing delivered a shipment of 18 000 surgical masks and 120 hand-held temperature scanners to the Early Care Foundation. Nan said additional shipments of 50 000 masks were inbound.
Zhao said African countries would be some of the first recipients of a Covid-19 vaccine, should China successfully mass produce a working medication.
When the Covid-19 pandemic broke out in early 2020, the Chinese epicentre in Wuhan received supplies and manpower from some African countries.
Economic discussions at the forum centred around Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects and growing the industrial sector across the continent.
There are over 100 operational or near-operational China-Africa industrial parks in Africa. Zhao said China had invested more than $100 billion into the parks – more than any other country
BRI projects and industrial production are key contributors to the continent’s 2063 African Union Agenda, said Professor at the University of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Yonas Adaye.
Since the first FOCAC Summit in Beijing in 2006, five African countries have opened trade and cooperation zones generating 12% of Africa’s total industrial production.