Chinese billionaire and co-founder of Alibaba, Jack Ma, has pledged donate 20,000 testing kits, 100,000 masks and 1,000 protective suits to each African country to help the fight against coronavirus.
Mr Ma, Asia’s richest person, earlier this month sent consignments of medical supplies to the US and pledged to distribute two million protective masks across Europe.
In a statement he said the resources for African countries would be delivered to Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed overseeing distribution to the rest of the continent.
Mr Abiy confirmed the news in a series of tweets and spoke of his “great appreciation” for Jack Ma’s partnership:
“As members of the global community, it will be irresponsible of us to sit on the fence, panic, ignore facts, or fail to act. We need to take action now,” Mr Ma added in his statement.
He said the Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation would also provide online material for coronavirus clinical treatment to medical institutions on the continent.
There has been a sharp rise in coronavirus cases in Africa in recent days, although they are still fewer than in most other continents. Strict measures have been ordered – including travel restrictions and the closure of schools – in South Africa and Kenya among others.
There are concerns that the continent’s weak health systems may be unable to cope with a large outbreak, and that governments lack financial and logistical resources to deal with the virus.