China’s President Xi Jinping on Monday pledged to offer one billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to Africa, in a speech made via videolink to a China-Africa summit near Senegal’s capital Dakar.
The Chinese leader said that his country would donate 600 million doses directly. A further 400 million doses would come from other sources, such as investments in production sites.
Xi’s promise comes as part of forum between China and African states with an emphasis on trade and security, held in the city of Diamniadio near Senegal’s seaside capital.
China invests heavily in Africa, and is the continent’s largest trading partner with direct trade worth over $200 billion in 2019, according to the Chinese embassy in Dakar.
Vaccination rates in Africa are low compared to the rest of the world, with many states at the mercy of foreign donations due to the lack of local production facilities and prohibitive costs of mass purchases.
“We must continue to fight together against COVID,” Xi told the summit. “We must prioritize the protection of our people and close the vaccination gap.”