Interview: China's new commitments breathe new life into Africa's COVID-19 fight, says expert
NAIROBI, June 17 (Xinhua) -- China's commitments announced Wednesday to help Africa with COVID-19 medical supplies and fast track the construction of the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) headquarters help breathe new life into the continent's COVID-19 fight, a Kenyan researcher has told Xinhua.
"China's commitment to providing additional supplies, sending expert teams, (and) expediting the construction of the Africa CDC headquarters is certainly welcome," said Cavince Adhere, an international relations expert with a focus on China-Africa relations.
During the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19 held via video link Wednesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping said China will start ahead of schedule the construction of the Africa CDC headquarters this year, and "continue to help African countries by providing supplies, sending expert teams, and facilitating Africa's procurement of medical supplies in China."
As the novel coronavirus "digs deeper in Africa," Adhere said the continent's need for "essential commodities such as testing kits, medicines, ventilators, face masks and protective clothing has only heightened."
He noted that the summit could not have come at a better time when COVID-19 cases are rising in many African countries, straining the existing health systems, and the economies are feeling the weight of lockdown measures.
"Many of the public health systems in the continent are increasingly constrained," said Adhere. "In an effort to avoid the hospitals being overrun by COVID-19 patients, Kenya ... has rolled out homecare protocols, signaling the need for additional efforts, knowledge and resources to stem the spread of the virus."
Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, China has "backed its words with tangible assistance to the continent," the researcher noted.
He also said China's decision to cancel the debt of relevant African countries in the form of interest-free government loans that are due to mature by the end of 2020 within the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation framework was pleasantly surprising and must be commended.
"It is a timely response to the pleas of the continent and will help free up resources for better epidemics control," the expert told Xinhua, adding that it was "even more heartening" to hear China will urge G20 countries to consider extending the debt service suspension for affected countries.
Noting that President Xi said during the summit that China supports Africa's effort to develop the African Continental Free Trade Area, enhance connectivity and strengthen industrial and supply chains, Adhere said he believes the support "will recreate the jobs swallowed by the pandemic while hoisting the continent's connectivity."
"COVID-19 is creating a new world ... It remains an existential threat that demands unity of purpose and effort," said the expert, adding that "No single country is immune to the pandemic and the most vulnerable economies such as those found in Africa should not be left behind." Enditem