Chinese billionaire Jack Ma to donate test kits, masks to every African state

Jack Ma, billionaire and chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., reacts as he arrives for sessions at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) in Saint Petersburg, Russia, on Friday, June 19, 2015. SPIEF is an annual international conference dedicated to economic and business issues which takes place at the Lenexpo exhibition center June 18-20. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg *** Local Caption *** Jack Ma

Chinese billionaire businessman Jack Ma has announced that his foundation, together with the Alibaba Foundation, will donate testing kits, masks, protective suits and face masks to all 54 African countries to help them fight the coronavirus outbreak.

This comes a few days after he pledged similar support to the US, offering the country 500,000 coronavirus test kits and a million masks amid a shortage of kits for diagnosing the potentially deadly disease.

In a statement on Twitter on Tuesday, Ma said: “We cannot ignore the potential risk to Africa and assume this continent of 1.3-billion people will blissfully escape the crisis. The world cannot afford the unthinkable consequences of a Covid-19 pandemic in Africa.

“We can take precautions and get prepared ahead of time, as Africa can benefit from the experience and lessons of other countries that were earlier hit hard by the virus.”

“To combat the potential surging demand for medical supplies and equipment in Africa, the Jack Ma Foundation and the Alibaba Foundation will donate to each one of the 54 African nations 20,000 testing kits, 100,000 masks and 1,000 medical-use protective suits and face shields.”

Additionally, Ma said foundations will collaborate with medical institutions in Africa to “provide online training material for Covid-19 clinical treatment”.

All the equipment will be delivered to Ethiopia, with Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed Ali tasked with the logistics of delivering it to the other states.

Ma’s announcement comes as Tanzania and Somalia became the latest African countries to announce coronavirus cases, bringing the number of affected countries to 30.

Other countries Ma’s organisations have provided similar support to include Japan, South Korea, Italy, Iran and Spain.

BY KHANYISILE NGCOBO – Additional reporting by AFP

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