As COVID-19 continues to ravage different countries across the globe, there are concerns that it may take a foothold in developing countries. The Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has emphasized that the key to defeating the virus was adequate testing and isolation. However, most African countries lack the testing kits. In countries where they are available, they are insufficient. Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation on March 16 announced a huge donation to all 54 African countries. That promise has been fulfilled.
a. 20,000 test kits
b. 100,000 masks
c. 1,000 medical use protective suits and face shields.
— Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban 😷 #StayHome (@AlfaAfrican) March 16, 2020
The shipment from Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation contained 100,000 medical masks, 20,000 test kits, and 1,000 protective suits. However, it is important to mention that the donation is uniform across all African nations. Jack Ma is the richest man in China with a net worth of around $38 billion. On his Twitter page, the Chinese billionaire highlighted the importance of carrying Africa along.
“We cannot ignore the potential risk to Africa and assume this continent of 1.3 billion people will blissfully escape the crisis. The world cannot afford the unthinkable consequences of a COVID-19 pandemic in Africa. Now it is as if we were all living in the same forest on fire. As members of the global community, it would be irresponsible of us to sit on the fence, panic, ignore facts or fail to act. We need to take action now!”
Africa can be one step ahead of the coronavirus. To each of the 54 African countries, we will donate 20,000 test kits, 100,000 masks and 1,000 medical use protective suits and face shields. Thank you @PMEthiopia @AbiyAhmedAli for your support. pic.twitter.com/6oKptVCjNx
— Jack Ma (@JackMa) March 16, 2020
Jack Ma and Jack Ma Foundation have made several donations to different countries around the world. Some of the beneficiaries include the United States, Italy, and South Korea. As the world race for a cure, prevention remains our strongest weapon against COVID-19.
Ethiopia Receives Jack Ma Foundation’s Donation
The first batch of the Jack Ma Foundation’s donation arrived in Ethiopia on Sunday, March 22, 2020. Contained in the shipment were 5.4 million face masks, 1 million testing kits, 60 thousand face shields, and 40 thousand protective apparels. Consequently, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is in charge of the distribution of the supplies to other African countries. Prime Minister Ahmed acknowledged the reception of the supplies via a tweet.
Thank you @JackMa & the @AlibabaGroup for sending the first wave of #COVID-19 prevention materials. Support includes 1.1million testing kits,6million masks & 60,000 protective suits to be distributed throughout Africa. Distribution to other countries will begin as of tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/tHsiwoWFjY
— Abiy Ahmed Ali 🇪🇹 (@AbiyAhmedAli) March 22, 2020
However, he mentioned that distribution would begin on Monday, March 23, 2020. Many countries have already received their share of the supply. Interestingly, Jack Ma Foundation will work with local medical institutions across the continent to provide online training materials for the treatment of COVID-19.
This morning we have sent out the second shipment of #COVID-19 materials acquired through the support of @JackMa and the @AlibabaGroup to #South Africa, #Burundi, #Rwanda, #Togo, #Zambia, #Zimbabwe, #Kenya, #Nigeria and #South Sudan. pic.twitter.com/Ts4F7Znc2h
— Abiy Ahmed Ali 🇪🇹 (@AbiyAhmedAli) March 24, 2020
Ethiopia is a partner of the Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP). The platform is an initiative by Alibaba to create a more inclusive global economy. Ethiopia’s position in eWTP played a huge role in the transportation and distribution of the supplies. Reacting to the distribution logistics, the secretary-general of the eWTP, Juntao Song said,
“Like so many other areas of life, the pandemic has brought about new challenges for the global movement of goods. With our technology and eWTP hubs, we are doing our utmost to quickly deliver these donations, so the supplies can reach those who need them most.”
Rwanda Receives Jack Ma Foundation’s Donation
Rwanda is one of the African countries that have received their share of Jack Ma Foundation’s donation. According to officials of the Ministry of Health, the kits will be a major boost in an effort to contain the virus. Appreciating the donation, Minister of Health, Dr. Daniel Ngamije said,
“Rwanda is very grateful for the timely and generous gift of COVID-19 test kits from the Jack Ma Foundation. The kits work perfectly with the equipment in our laboratories. It is reassuring that we have increased capacity to test those at risk, take appropriate measures to manage the cases, and prevent further infections.”
The kits make use of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) diagnostics. This technique amplifies the test subject. Thus, it can detect very low amounts of infections among suspected cases. Currently, Rwanda has the capacity of testing 200 cases per day. Rwanda has at least 60 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with no deaths. Also, President Paul Kagame did not hide his joy. In a televised message to the nation, he said,
“I thank those who have contributed to Rwanda’s fight against this pandemic, including the World Health Organization; I thank very much Dr. Tedros, and Jack Ma Foundation and others for their material and advisory support.”
Thank you @JackMa and @foundation_ma for your generous donation of test kits delivered in Kigali today. This is a huge shot in the arm and a much needed contribution in our work to stop the spread of #Coronavirus. I know the people of Rwanda join me in gratitude
— Paul Kagame (@PaulKagame) March 20, 2020
Zimbabwe Receives Jack Ma Foundation Donation
Zimbabwe got its share of the Jack Ma Foundation donation on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Receiving the donation, Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa thanked Jack Ma and Alibaba Foundation. According to President Mnangagwa, the donation is a true act of friendship. In a related statement, the ministry of health said,
“The ministry (of health) is very grateful to the Jack Ma and Alibaba Foundation for their generosity and contribution to the National COVID-19 response and will ensure equitable distribution of this consignment so that they get to where there is the greatest need.”
Following the footstep of many western nations, Zimbabwe has closed its borders to all traffics except cargos and returning residents. Also, the country has imposed a ban on public gatherings. Zimbabwe has 7 cases of COVID-19 so far with 1 death.
Zimbabwe has received 20,000 test kits, 100,000 face masks, and 1,000 protective wears and face shields donated by Chinese businessman, Jack Ma, for Covid-19 fight. @MoHCCZim has confirmed receipt of the above materials. https://t.co/yWiOSblOWO
— Chinese Embassy in Zimbabwe (@ChineseZimbabwe) March 25, 2020
Nigeria Receives Donation
The Jack Ma Foundation donation arrived in Nigeria on Wednesday, March 25, 2020. Speaking to AFP, Nigeria’s top health official Abdulaziz Abdullahi said the supplies will go to frontline health workers as well as hospital laboratories. Following the donation, Nigeria’s testing capacity rose by 32%. As of March 25, Nigeria has carried out only 262 tests. This is insignificant compared to 20,000 tests conducted by South Africa so far.
In preparedness for a possible explosion of cases, Nigeria’s army chief, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai unveiled a new specialist hospital in Abuja. Also, Buratai mentioned that military medical personnel will be deployed to help fight the virus. As of March 28, 2020, Nigeria had 89 cases of COVID-19 with 1 death.
— Nigerian Air Force (@NigAirForce) March 25, 2020
Infection Rate and Death Toll from COVID-19 In Africa
Inasmuch as it seems the spread of COVID-19 across Africa is slow, in reality, there could be more. Up until now, many African countries still lack the testing kits. Also, there are indications that some African countries are not doing enough testing.
The rate of infection in South Africa rose sharply in the last seven days to overtake Egypt. Consequently, South Africa is now the worst-hit African nation with at least 1,187 cases. The country also recorded the first mortality in the last 7 days. However, the government is still struggling to enforce a total lockdown in the country. The big question now is, what measures should African governments take to curtail the spread of COVID-19? We will love to hear your opinion in the comment box below.