Addis Ababa, Ethiopia | THE INDEPENDENT | In ongoing efforts to contain the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus and provide aid to afflicted communities across the globe, the Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation has committed to donating 100,000 medical masks, 20,000 test kits and 1,000 protective suits to each of the 54 nations on the African continent.
More than 6 million donated supplies arrived in Addis Ababa on March 22. Additional batches are due to arrive over the course of the next few weeks.
After receiving the items today, Ethiopian PM Ahmed Abiy said, “Thank you Jack Ma and the Alibaba Group for sending the first wave of COVID-19 prevention materials. Support includes 1.1million testing kits, 6million masks and 60,000 protective suits to be distributed throughout Africa. Distribution to other countries will begin as of tomorrow.”
Alibaba Group Founder Jack Ma said earlier this month that, “We cannot ignore the potential risk to Africa and assume this continent of 1.3 billion people will blissfully escape the crisis,” adding, “we can take precautions now and get prepared ahead of time, as Africa can benefit from the experience and lessons from other countries that were earlier hit hard by the virus.”
The medical supplies donated by the Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation will be delivered to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, where Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali has agreed to take the lead in overseeing their distribution to other African countries. The foundations also announced plans to provide online training materials to help medical institutions in Africa cope with coronavirus cases.
Ethiopia’s position as a partner of the Electronic World Trade Platform – an Alibaba-led initiative that strives to create a more inclusive global economy – will play a key role in ensuring the onward transportation and distribution of the medical goods across the continent. The eWTP’s hub in Rwanda will also be leveraged for this purpose.
“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,” said Juntao Song, the secretary general of the eWTP.
Alongside their collaborations with the Ethiopian Government and the country’s eWTP, the foundations also worked closely with the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the United Nations World Food Programme and Ethiopian Airlines in the delivery of the donated items.
Aside from offering support to African nations, the Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation have also donated medical supplies to other countries hardest hit by the virus, including Japan, South Korea, the U.S. and countries across Europe and Asia. The foundations have also provided funding to establishments such as the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity in Australia and Columbia University in the U.S. to support research into coronavirus vaccines and treatment.
Addressing the need to share resources and knowledge to combat the health crisis, Ma tweeted: “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!”