Chinese president, Xi Jinping, pledged to donate a further one billion Covid-19 vaccines to Africa. Beijing also said it would invest no less than $15 billion in the continent over the next 36 months.
Xi’s announcement, which was broadcast via video link, was made at the opening of the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation in late November.
Vaccination rates in Africa have been among the lowest in the world and concerns about the recently identified Omicron variant – first identified in Africa – has cast the world’s gaze on the continent.
To date, China has donated roughly 200 million doses to Africa. President Xi said 600 million doses of life-saving vaccines would be directed to struggling African states, while 400 million would be produced through collaborative projects between Chinese firms and African partners.
At present, there are similar projects underway on the continent. Algerian pharmaceutical group, Saidal, entered a joint venture with Sinovac Biotech to manufacture the Chinese-developed vaccine. Production is expected to reach around 5 million doses per month by January, according to The Diplomat.
Beijing also said it would assist in the development of ten more health projects on the continent, in addition to sending a further 1 500 medical professionals to provide aid where it is needed.
The Chinese leader’s address, delivered during the opening ceremony of the eighth FOCAC event, also touched on establishing a zone for trade and economic cooperation and building an industrial park.
Without providing specifics, Xi also mentioned developing a cross-border yuan centre and assisting African financial institutions with an extended credit line.
Poverty alleviation and agriculture production were also on the agenda. China said it would be sending 500 experts to the continent to teach farmers modern growing techniques and solutions.
Xi said China would target $300 billion worth of imports from the continent over the next three years and will establishing “green lanes” – allowing agricultural exporters to enjoy tariff-free trade where diplomatic relations are secured.
China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a project to develop infrastructure throughout the developing nations on the sub-continent, Europe, and Africa, has slowed since the start of the pandemic. Investment into Africa fell from $11 billion in 2017 to $3.3 billion last year, according to law firm, Baker McKenzie.
South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa, who also spoke via video link, said FOCAC had been an “engine for progress” in Africa, but called for a recalibration of the China-Africa relationship. Ramaphosa urged more investment into projects like ports, rails, energy, water and human development, but also emphasised lessening the trade deficit between the two parties.