By Ssemanda Allawi,
China’s gesture to donate 300,000 doses of Covid-19 Sinovac Vaccine to Uganda is a great gesture and should be hailed.
This life saving donation announced by Chinese special representative H.E Yang Jiechi comes in at a time when the world is faced with shortage of vaccine with rich and developed countries embracing vaccine nationalism as many races to vaccinate their citizens first, leaving out the poor and developing countries to miss vaccinating their citizens in the first phase.
Therefore, the news that China is donating 300,000 does to the country to help vaccinate at least 300,000 Ugandans is a welcome gesture and another evidence of importance of China-Africa relations. Actually, the development comes at a time after the Beijing and Kampala announced that the two friendly countries have agreed to strengthen their bilateral cooperation status elevating it to Comprehensive Cooperation Partnership a clear significance of great cooperation between the two countries for mutual benefit.
This donation at a time when the world is faced with Vaccine nationalism, as governments race to contain the deadly pandemic – Covid-19, by all measures, using humanity lenses, one can conclude that China’s relations with Africa goes beyond just Economic or trade and development as some analysts contend, it is also looking at humanity aspect.
Indeed, while discussing with China’s Assistant Director of African Affairs during 2019 Forum on China-Africa Co-operation Think Tanks Conference in Beijing, H.E Li Chong was very clear telling me; “Your own development is inseparable from other’s development. China has to support our African allies where possible so that we can all develop together, ours is a win-win cooperation with a vision of realising a shared prosperous future.”
The other advantage of China’s Sinovac is that it gives developing countries like ours a clear logistical merit backed with scientific advantage over others. A case in point is that China’s Sinovac can be stored well in Africa’s environment with our common fridges of between 2 to minus 8 degrees centigrade as opposed to other vaccines that requires special fridges of about minus 800C.
Also, in countries where it has been used like Brazil, Scientists at Brazil’s Emilio Ribas Institute of Infectious Diseases concluded that Sinovac was safe with “fantastic” results showing 78% efficacy when it comes to preventing mild covid-19 and completely prevents severe illness caused by SARS-CoV-2 infections.
It should be recalled that of the over 42 countries that managed to vaccinate a sizable number of their citizens, not any of them is from developing or the so-called low-income states. The reason for this does not require rocket science, it is because most of developed and rich countries have shamelessly taken full control of vaccine supply chain, leaving billions of people in low income at God’s mercy to survive the deadly Covid-19.
As this inexcusable and selfish act of vaccine nationalism moves unchallenged in wealthy nations with their citizens first not humanity, China which is often criticized especially by some western pundits accusing Beijing of being in bed with African countries for what they describe as selfish, today, China is building a COVID-19 vaccine delivery conduit which will help in ensuring African countries can access vaccines by establishing a cold-chain air bridge from Chinese city of Shenzhen to have a logistical hub in Ethiopia which will have capacity to produce the much needed vaccine in Africa’s Morocco and Egypt before being supplied to other African countries. Beyond politics, this is nothing but purely a humane act that in all measures present Beijing as a true and reliable friend, a relation that Africa should possibly guard at all cost.
Relatedly, despite Sino-Africa Sceptics pushing a now botched narrative that Beijing would not fulfil her promise of ensuring African countries and other developing Nations receive vaccines as a matter of priority, China has matched their words with deeds by supplying Morocco with Sinopharm vaccine which was delivered on 10th December. Other African countries like Egypt, Algeria, Zimbabwe Equatorial Guinea among others have also received donations of about 300,000 doses with several others including Uganda on waiting list to receive their first batch.
On debt relief meant to aid African economies cushion effects of Covid-19 pandemic, presently, China has signed debt service suspension agreements with over 15 African countries and waived off the matured interest-free loans for 16 other countries through the G-20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative. While several others like Rwanda have signed deals with Beijing writing off their debts.
In conclusion, Sino-Africa Sceptics and critics should probably change lenses used to view and analyse their perception on China-Africa Relations which seems to be locked in infrastructure development and trade alone. Wider lenses should be applied to give them a clear picture and appreciate how China is working with several African capitals to address long ignored sectors such as Health, agriculture, industrialization and humane aspects which equally play key role in ensuring Social and Economic take off. These are some of the key areas charming African regimes and citizens to whole heartedly welcome Beijing not just in their capitals and homes.