The construction of the new headquarters of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention is set to officially kick-off.
This is after its groundbreaking and unveiling ceremony, attended by diplomats and representatives from various African countries, was held in Ethiopia. This is a fulfilment of China’s promise to start the construction this year.
The project, which will be financed and constructed by the Chinese Government to the tune of US$80 million, is expected to strengthen the continent’s capacity to build resilient health systems for a healthier and stronger Africa.
During the ceremony, African Union Commission Chairperson Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat thanked the government of China for offering to construct the building.
In a message delivered on his behalf by the African Union Commissioner for Social Affairs Amira Elfadil, Mr Faki noted that the Chinese leadership had been consistent in its support for Africa and its people.
“The partnership between the AU and China is strategic, and the AU is extending hands to all partners who are looking for mutual cooperation with Africa. I also commend the efforts by President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa and the Chair of the AU in the establishment of the COVID-19 African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team as a component in support of the Africa vaccine strategy,” Mr Faki said in his message.
Once complete, the building will include an emergency operation centre, data centre, laboratory, resource centre, briefing rooms, a training centre, conference centre, offices and expatriate flats – all to be built, furnished and equipped by the Chinese government.
The AU commission noted that this was not the only project that was set to commence given that a number of them, to be done in a number of countries, have been lined up.
“I would like to assure you the construction for the other five regional collaborating centers of Africa CDC located in Egypt, Gabon, Kenya, Nigeria and Zambia, to serve the Northern Africa, Central Africa, Eastern Africa, Western Africa, and Southern Africa regions respectively. They will commence in the near future,” she added.
On his part, the head of the Chinese Mission to the African Union, Ambassador Liu Yuxi, underlined the significance of the project and said China and Africa will always support each other and fight shoulder to shoulder.
“China got valuable support from the African Union and African countries when it faced the hardest period. When the pandemic outbreak reached Africa, China sent medical expert teams to 16 African countries, built pair-up hospital cooperation with 42 African countries, offered urgent medical supplies to the African Union and almost all African countries,” Ambassador Liu said.
Speaking via a video link from Beijing, Mr Qian Keming, China’s Vice-Minister of Commerce, said building the Africa CDC was a concrete action to follow through with commitments made at the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation.
Minister Qian further reiterated President Xi Jinping’s commitment that China would continue to support Africa in the fight against COVID-19, and start ahead of schedule the construction of the Africa CDC headquarters this year.
“The groundbreaking ceremony will take the project into a new stage. We hope this flagship project in China-Africa practical cooperation can benefit African people and become another shining example for the China-Africa friendship. China is committed to the principle of pursuing shared benefits through consultation and collaboration with the African Union towards the implementation of its Agenda 2063,” Qian said. - KBC