China says it will start ahead of schedule the construction of the Africa Centres for Disease Control headquarters this year.
In June last year the African Union Commission and the Government of China, signed an Exchange of Letters of Agreement for the construction of the headquarters building.
In 2015 China expressed the willingness to invest in the construction of the building in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia as a way of strengthening Africa’s public health system.
Some member states within the African Union have however expressed concerns over the plan to allow China to build the headquarters worth $80bn in Addis Ababa.
Those opposing member states say the African Union commission didn’t secure the needed official approval for the project.
Morocco was also bidding to host the centre with some countries saying it is even better equipped technically to support the centre than Ethiopia.
During China-Africa summit this week, President of China, Xi Jinping said “China will start ahead of schedule the construction of the Africa CDC headquarters this year.”
The Africa CDC is playing a major role in the fight against the coronavirus across Africa and China says it wants to make the agency effective in that battle.
“China will continue to do whatever it can to support Africa’s response to COVID-19,” President Jinping said.
China built the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa in 2012 and that sparked controversy in 2017 when it was discovered that the Asian giant manipulated the AU Commission’s computer system to transmit internal AU communications directly to Beijing.
China and USA battling over the structure
The building of the Africa CDC headquarters has also taken a global power struggle dimension with the United States opposed to it.
According to the Daily Maverick, US is concerned that if the AU Commission allows China to fund and build the Africa CDC headquarters in Addis Ababa, Beijing will gain control over Africa’s health management.
Ethiopia (backed by China) and Morocco (reportedly backed by the US) have all been battling for the headquarters of the Africa CDC.
To structure to be built in the African Village, south of Addis Ababa, will be on a site that covers an “area of 90,000m2 with a total construction area of nearly 40,000m2” according to the Africa CDC.
It said recently that “when completed the building will include an emergency operation centre, a data centre, laboratory, resource centre, briefing rooms, training centre, conference centre, offices, and expatriate apartments, all to be constructed, furnished and equipped by the Government of China.”
The Africa CDC offers enormous advantages to host country because it stands to benefit from the centers’ health services first.
Xi Jinping said “China will work with Africa to fully deliver the health care initiative adopted at the FOCAC Beijing Summit, and speed up the construction of China-Africa Friendship Hospitals and the cooperation between paired-up Chinese and African hospitals. Together, we will build a China-Africa community of health for all.”