Chinese Billionaire Jack Ma Donates 1.1M Coronavirus Test Kits To African Countries

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Written by Peter Pedroncelli
Jack Ma coronavirus test kits
Chinese billionaire Jack Ma has donated 1.1M coronavirus test kits to African countries in an effort to control the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus. Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (left) with Alibaba founder Jack Ma (right). Image: Ethiopian government

Chinese billionaire Jack Ma, who has an estimated net worth of 44 billion,  plans to donate coronavirus test kits and personal protective equipment to every African country in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

The founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba, Ma is donating 1.1 million coronavirus test kits, 6 million face masks, and 60,000 protective suits to Africa, according to IOL.

The ability to test people for the COVID-19 virus through test kits is fundamental in the effort to control the spread of the virus, according to the World Health Organization

Screening and quarantine procedures are important tools in stopping the spread of the coronavirus, said World Health Organization assistant director-general Bruce Aylward.

Ma said he wants to spread the much-needed resources equally across all 54 African countries. Around 20,000 testing kits will be sent to each country.

The Jack Ma Foundation has made similar donations to other countries heavily affected by the coronavirus, including Japan, South Korea, the U.S., Italy, Spain, and Belgium. 

Ma donated 500,000 coronavirus testing kits and a million face masks to the U.S., TheObserver reported.

The coronavirus has spread to more than 135 countries since December 2019, infecting more than 205,000 people and leading to more than 8,200 deaths.

The coronavirus is now in at least 30 of Africa’s 54 countries. Experts are concerned that an accelerated outbreak of the virus in Africa could be devastating, according to The New York Times.

As of March 19, Egypt is Africa’s hardest-hit country with around 196 infections and six deaths. Others like South Africa and Algeria have less than 150 confirmed cases of the virus thus far.

Ma said Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed would take the lead in managing the distribution logistics of the donated supplies across Africa, according to IOL.

Ma has been a frequent visitor to Africa in recent years, launching an initiative to support and fund entrepreneurship

He’s met with African leaders including Rwanda President Paul Kagame, Togo President Faure Gnassingbé, Ethiopian Prime Minister Ahmed and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

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In August 2018, Ma announced a $10 million fund and program, “Netpreneur“, that will support African entrepreneurs who are working within the digital economy to address Africa’s most important challenges, according to Ventureburn.

Ma stepped down from his role as chairman of the board at China’s largest company, Alibaba, in September 2019.