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China promises one billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Africa | Coronavirus

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The Chinese head of state also announced dozens of projects on the continent in the fields of health, but also digital and security, as well as a debt cancellation and the reallocation to African countries of 10 billion dollars. US dollars from the International Monetary Fund.

He made the announcements remotely at a China-Africa Cooperation Forum (FOCAC) held outside Dakar. Three years after the previous meeting in Beijing, this FOCAC was placed under the sign of the efforts undertaken by African countries to revive their economies hard hit by the pandemic.

To achieve this, the organizers are counting on enhanced cooperation with China. The latter, the largest trading partner, has doubled its economic activism in Africa with intensive vaccination diplomacy in support of notoriously under-resourced countries.

China will provide Africa with a billion doses of additional vaccines, including 600 million in the form of donations and 400 million in other forms, such as the establishment of vaccine production units.

A quote from Xi Jinping, Chinese President

On the mainland, Egypt has started manufacturing vaccines from the Chinese laboratory Sinovac.

Other projects are more or less advanced in South Africa and Senegal. China has also delivered more than 160 million doses of vaccines to Africa, said Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce Ren Hongbin, much of it in the form of donations.

“Bridging the vaccine gap”

A soldier receives a dose of vaccine.

The Chinese government intends to help close the immunization gap between African countries and the rest of the world by donating 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine.

Photo: AP / Leo Correa

We must continue the united fight against COVID. We must prioritize the protection of our populations and close the vaccine gap, said the Chinese president, referring to the significant delay in vaccination observed in Africa.

He echoed a widespread demand from African leaders for the lifting of intellectual property rights on vaccines.

Chinese commitment is part of a strong relationship through sincere friendship and equality, mutual benefit and common development, he said.

Africa is the scene of heightened economic competition between great powers. FOCAC opened a few days after Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s tour of Africa and Senegal against a backdrop of growing rivalry between Washington and Beijing.

Trade between Africa and China amounted to US $ 200 billion in 2019.

Across Africa, production contracted by 2.4% in 2020 due to the pandemic, which worsened unemployment, budget deficits and public debt, Senegalese Minister of Economy Amadou said. Hott.

But he found the strong resilience of China-Africa cooperation in the face of the shock. Chinese direct investment in Africa has picked up and amounted to US $ 2.5 billion in the first nine months of 2021, he said.

Instrumentalisation of African debt?

A hostess at the forum.

The China-Africa Cooperation Forum, held outside Dakar, Senegal, opened on Monday.

Photo: Reuters / Cooper Inveen

China faces the reproach of using the debts contracted by African states, in particular to finance major infrastructures such as airports or train lines, in order to increase its influence over countries unable or struggling to honor their commitments. It is also criticized for the imbalance of trade, as well as for its social and environmental practices.

The Senegalese minister called for a Chinese relationship with the continent less focused on debt and more benefiting African economies.

We have a lot of investments in debt, we need more investments in equity, he said. He called for Chinese support for the industrialization and digitization of African economies. He called on China to reallocate part of its special drawing rights to Africa.

The Chinese president responded to the invitations and announced the cancellation of debts related to intergovernmental loans maturing at the end of 2021 of the least developed African countries, as well as the reallocation to Africa of 10 billion dollars in rights of special prints.

He announced not only the sending to Africa of 1,500 medical professionals, but also dozens of projects in the health, agriculture, digital, green development and security sectors.

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