World Insights: Africa says China's vaccine pledge timely

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NAIROBI, Nov. 30 (Xinhua) -- China's pledge to provide another 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to Africa is appreciated by people from all walks of life in the continent, with many saying it could not have come at a more opportune time.

The sum, including 600 million doses as donation and 400 million doses to be provided through such means as joint production by Chinese companies and relevant African countries, was announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday while addressing the opening ceremony of the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) via video link.

"This will be the biggest COVID-19 vaccine support ever given to African countries by a single country," said Gerald Mbanda, Rwandan researcher and publisher on China-Africa cooperation and founder of Africa-China Review news website, on Tuesday.

Mbanda said since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, China has provided vaccines, medical equipment, face masks, among others, to Africa. Chinese doctors and experts have also shared their pandemic-fighting experience with their African counterparts.

Cavince Adhere, a Kenya-based international relations scholar, said on Monday that the announcement "could not have come at a more opportune time," adding the continent is currently experiencing a surge in COVID-19 infections driven by the Omicron variant.

"It is a continuation of solid support that Beijing has extended to Africa since the onset of the pandemic characterized by shipment of tonnes of medical supplies," Adhere said.

Amadou Diop, a journalist of Senegal's newspaper Le Soleil (The Sun), said on Monday that China's pledge is a posture which "once again proves China's attachment to the development of Africa, to the well-being of the peoples of Africa."

Charles Onunaiju, director of the Abuja-based Center for China Studies, said on Tuesday that the pledge came "in the nick of time and justifies the longstanding solidarity and cooperation between China and Africa in tackling this most serious challenge that is facing the world now."

"We see, once more, FOCAC is playing a practical, tangible role in answering questions that are critical to Africa -- vaccine inequity, vaccine access, inequality, and some of the concerns that Africa has raised," Onunaiju said.

"We don't need lecturers or those who come to tell us what to do but are not practically solving the problems or core African challenges. So, China has shown the way, and we want others to follow, " he added.

"In the context of China-Namibia anti-epidemic cooperation, it strengthens relations because it is in emergency cases that you know who your friends are," Marius Kudumo, director of international relations at Namibia University of Science and Technology, said Tuesday, adding that Namibia is not the only beneficiary from China's assistance.

By Nov. 12, China had provided over 1.7 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to more than 110 countries and organizations, including 50 African countries and the AU Commission.

China-Africa anti-pandemic cooperation strengthens solidarity, which is "the basis for multilateralism, bilateral relations and international relations," Kudumo added.

Rauha Tulonga, who is working in the public service in Windhoek, Namibia, thanked China for its assistance.

"When I arrived at the vaccination point, the nurse asked me to choose, I picked Sinopharm. I think China is being kind by extending aid. Many thanks," the 31-year-old said.

According to data from Nambia's Ministry of Health and Social Services, more than 300,000 people in the country have so far been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with over 147,000 of them having received two doses of the Sinopharm vaccine.

People who spoke to Xinhua in Harare, capital of Zimbabwe, after receiving their first jabs expressed confidence that Chinese vaccines are providing some hope that the end of the global pandemic is approaching.

Guy-Gervais Kitina, a resident of the Republic of the Congo, said the donation of Chinese vaccines has boosted the country's confidence in fighting the virus. Kitina added that he voluntarily signed up for Chinese COVID-19 vaccine and has been encouraging his family and friends to do the same.

"Solidarity is the best cure to the virus," he said.

Francis Litupi, a 50-year-old newspaper vendor in Tanzania's commercial capital Dar es Salaam, said he opted to take Sinopharm because he believes in the safety and efficacy of the Chinese vaccines.

The pledge made to Africa at the FOCAC conference is a further testimony that China and Africa are friends through thick and thin, said Litupi, adding that with the Chinese support, Africa will have faith in containing the pandemic. Enditem

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