Over US protests, China partners AU on disease control

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Timo Shihepo

Windhoek - Construction of the Africa Centres for Disease Control (Africa CDC) headquarters will start soon after the African Union and China’s Ministry of Commerce signed an MoU for the project to commence, despite protests from United States. 

Africa CDC was launched in 2017 as a long-term response to the 2014 Ebola pandemic with a view to co-ordinating continental responses to disease outbreaks. 

All AU members contribute to the Africa CDC, with further financial assistance from China, Japan, Kuwait, the US and the World Bank.

Africa CDC presently operates out of the AU’s headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and the US$80 million funding from China – extended via the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation – will give the key institution its own base.

However, the US has opposed the funding, claiming China wants to mine data in Africa and use the continent against Washington in the trade war with Beijing.

The claims have fallen on deaf ears, and last week AU Commissioner for Social Affairs Amira Elfadil and China’s Vice-Minister for Commerce Qian Keming held an online MoU signing ceremony for “the Project of the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention Headquarters Building (Phase I)”.

Mrs Elfadil thanked China’s President Xi Jinping for Beijing’s continued support for Africa’s development.

“The African Union Commission attaches great value and importance to the significance of the construction of the Africa CDC headquarters building and AU will do all its best seriously in the realisation of the project,” she said.

Vice-Minister Keming said the financial support for Africa CDC was in fulfilment of a pledge made by Beijing through FOCAC.

The Africa CDC headquarters will be located south of Addis Ababa on a site approximately 90,000 square metres in size. The actual HQ floor area will be nearly 40,000 square metres.

Besides the administrative functions, the HQ will have an emergency operations centre, a data and resource centre and a laboratory, among other facilities.

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