The Chinese government has announced an additional I billion doses of Covid-19 vaccine to help Africa fight the raging pandemic.
The announcement was made on Monday at the ongoing Eighth Ministerial Conference on the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in the Senegalese capital, Dakar.
The conference, the opening ceremony of which was chaired by Senegal’s President Macky Sall, began with calls by African leaders for more investment in the productive sectors for the mutual benefits of both Africa and China, as well as further support to combat the viral pandemic.
President Xi Jinping, in his key note address via video link from Beijin, made several pledges, including to increase investment in the manufacture of Covid-19 vaccines to help the African Union achieve its goal of vaccinating 60 percent of its population by the end of 2022.
According to Chinese authorities, some 600 million doses of the vaccine will be provided as donation, while 400 million doses will be provided through such means as joint production by Chinese companies and African countries.
Monday’s pledge by President Xi follows a similar one he made earlier in September to provide 100 million vaccine doses to developing nations by the end of 2021.
FOCAC is a triennial event that brings Chinese officials and leaders from the African Union member countries, with the exception of Eswatini, which continues to recognise Taiwan against China’s wish, for discussion on China-Africa cooperations. The forum particularly provides a platform to strengthen Chinese foreign policy toward the African continent.
The theme for the Dakar confab is: “Deepen China-Africa Partnership and Promote Sustainable Development to Build a China-Africa Community with a Shared Future in the New Era.”
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is in attendance in Dakar, as are representatives, including colleague Foreign Ministers, from over 50 African countries.
Several African leaders, among them South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, also attended the opening ceremony via video link, as did the United Nations Secretary General António Guterres and the African Union Commission President Moussa Faki.
President Xi, in his address to the opening session , also said that China would encourage its companies to invest no less than $10 billion to support African export, and build in China a pioneering zone for indepth China-Africa trade and economic cooperation as well as a China-Africa industrial park for the belt and Road cooperation.
The summit takes place as the world braces up for a new Covid-19 variant called Omicron, which was detected in South Africa.
Several countries, mostly western nations, have reacted to the development by reimposing travel bans on South Africa and other neighboring countries.
President Ramaphosa, in his address to the conference, said the emergency for the continent is to tackle proliferation of the virus, calling on China to increase its support to the continent in its response to the pandemic.
The South African leader also slammed COVID-19 travel restrictions he said mostly hurt developing nations.
“We need to resist unjustified and unscientific travel restrictions that are damaging the economies and sectors of the economies that rely on travel,” he said, adding: “There is a world order where a country’s wealth is the difference between sickness and health.”
The host President, Macky Sall, also condemned the Covid-19 travel restriction and said that Africa was showing solidarity with South Africa by not closing its doors to the Rainbow Nation.
African leaders who spoke at the evtn all urged China to consider increasing its infrastructure investment portfolio on the continent and to reduce debt on African countries striuggling to cope with the aftermath of Covid.
AU Commission President Moussa Faki said Covid-19 underscored the need to accelerate development priorities like energy access, education and ICT for sustainable developetn of the continent.
The organizers say the African representatives will have the opportunity to see what China can offer for the resilience of their post-COVID-19 pandemic economies and other areas of the health sector, while continuing to implement its infrastructure programs to strengthen China-Africa cooperation.
Crucially, the meeting will also review and assess the follow-up implementation of the outcomes of the 2018 FOCAC Beijing Summit, the joint China-Africa response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and chart the course for China-Africa relations for the coming years.
On 8 November, Senegal’s foreign minister Aissata Tall Sall and China’s ambassador in Dakar, Xiao Han, announced that the forum would adopt four resolutions: The Dakar Action Plan (2022-2024); the 2035 Vision for China-Africa Cooperation; the Sino-African Declaration on Climate Change; and the Declaration of the Eighth Ministerial Conference of FOCAC.
Ahead of Monday’s opening session, the Chinese government on Friday released its first white paper on the China-Africa Cooperation, detailing its successes and offering a perspective on future cooperation between the two sides.