“The real solution is that every country must be safe before all countries become safe，” said Baba Ahmad Jidda, Ambassador of Nigeria to China, at an interview with GDToday during 2021 Imperial Springs International Forum in Guangzhou.
He stressed: “We want a sympathetic approach, because we are in a global world. And everybody has to be healthy for you to be healthy. Nobody will live in isolation.”
Baba Ahmad Jidda, Ambassador of Nigeria to China. (Photo: Steven Yuen)
Pandemic is not an issue that you isolate one country from another
As Omicron has triggered a new wave of COVID-19 infection recently, western countries have cut off flights to several countries with serious infection in Africa. One day before the WHO named the new variant Omicron, the United Kingdom had announced the suspension of flights to southern African countries, including South Africa. Subsequently, Israel, the United States, Japan, Italy and other countries have successively announced similar travel bans.
As countries shut borders, the WHO warns against Omicron travel bans. Baba Ahmad Jidda comments: “The decision to ban South Africa and other southern African countries is very unfortunate.”
After the COVID-19 broke out in Africa, the Chinese government provided donations of emergency medical supplies and vaccines to African countries. Up to now, China has provided over 180 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to 53 African countries and the AU Commission.
Jidda believes that the pandemic is an issue that needs global support, “it is not an issue that you isolate one country from another. We really appreciate China for all the support it has been giving to underdeveloped countries of Africa. China has done its best, and it has given many African countries vaccines for the last 2 years.”
Recently, at the opening ceremony of the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), President Xi Jinping announced supplying Africa with additional 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses, of which 600 million doses will be in the form of donations and the other 400 million will be jointly produced in Africa by Chinese and African companies.
Multilateralism should bring poor and the rich together
Speaking of this forum’s theme, Jidda said: “China is a leader who propagates multilateralism. Nigeria believes in multilateralism. Almost all African countries believe in multilateralism, because that is the only way that you can make progress and also help each other.”
In the interview, Jidda talked about the nine programs on which China will work closely with African countries, these were mentioned in President Xi’s speech at the Eighth Ministerial Conference of FOCAC.
At the conference, President Xi said China will undertake 10 industrialization and employment promotion projects for Africa, provide credit facilities of 10 billion US dollars to African financial institutions, support the development of African SMEs on a priority basis, and establish a China-Africa cross-border RMB center.
“We want multilateralism that will bring the poor and the rich together, take care of the underdeveloped and the developed countries. So that you move together. Otherwise, you will just operate like a unilateral country,” said the ambassador.
He recalled, during the FOCAC summit in Johannesburg in 2015, China pledged support of 60 billion dollars. During the summit in Beijing in 2018, again, President Xi pledged an additional sum of 60 billion dollars support to Africa. “So, you can see that almost all infrastructure that exists in almost all African countries of today is being funded by China.”
He added: “Therefore, it is not a surprise that African countries have gratitude towards China, for friendship, support, and every aspect of the infrastructure development. We are encouraged more than ever before to work very closely with China, with a view to improving our friendship. The only body that brings all African countries together is FOCAC.”
Shenzhen's game-changing reform is a clear example to the world
Jidda has been to Shenzhen before. “We have discussed in a conference, the idea of integrated development among these components, Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao. That is so fantastic because Shenzhen is a hub for scientific development, it’s the financial center, it’s a symbol of excellent development from 1980 to date.”
When the reform really started with Shenzhen as a focus, Jidda could see that it has become a clear example to the world, on how a community can grow from a very low, almost zero level (place) to a modern, prosperous, scientific, economically and industrially advanced society. He noted: “So this is a model that can be applied to all parts of China.”
Author | Hannah
Editor | Keane, Jerry