Transport CAS Chris Obure: Ethiopia pocketed part of Jack Ma’s COVID-19 donation to Kenya

By Brian Okoth On Thu, 3 Sep, 2020 12:53 | 2 mins read
Transport CAS Chris Obure appearing before the National Assembly Committee on Health on Thursday, September 3, 2020. [PHOTO | K24 DIGITAL]
Transport CAS Chris Obure appearing before the National Assembly Committee on Health on Thursday, September 3, 2020. [PHOTO | K24 DIGITAL]
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    Each African country received at least 20,000 testing kits, 100,000 masks and 1,000 medical use protective suits and face shields.

Transport Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Chris Obure now says a part of Jack Ma’s COVID-19 donation to Kenya was pocketed by Ethiopia, the country which first received the consignment on March 22 before distributing it to other African countries.

The protective and medical equipment donated to Africa by Jack Ma, a Chinese billionaire and Alibaba co-founder, first arrived in Ethiopia because the Eastern Africa nation’s capital, Addis Ababa, is the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) headquarters.

Health minister Mutahi Kagwe said the shipment comprising of testing kits, protective gear, mask and medical equipment from Jack Ma Foundation arrived in Nairobi from Ethiopia on March 24.

“We have received 25,000 testing kits from Jack Ma. We are thanking our medical fraternity for fast-tracking testing and other health services they are offering,” Kagwe told journalists after announcing that Kenya recorded nine new COVID-19 infections then, bringing the total number of confirmed cases at the time to 25.

Five months later, the donation by Jack Ma to Kenya is alleged to have been stolen, with a part of the consignment, which was received by KEMSA, said to have been sold to Tanzania and dubious medical supply companies.

Despite Kagwe saying that Kenya received 25,000 testing kits on March 24, which was above what other 53 African nations received each – 20,000 – Transport CAS, Obure, now says Ethiopia shortchanged Kenya while distributing the Jack Ma consignment.

While being grilled by the National Assembly Committee on Health on Thursday, Obure said that 21 packages out of the 697 packages of Jack Ma’s assorted medical supplies weighing 2,000 kilograms, were not delivered to Kenya by Ethiopia.

According to the CAS, Kenya received 671 packages only, which was cleared by the government clearing agent and received by Ministry of Health representative Alice Soita.

“The Ministry of Health is pursuing people in Addis Ababa to account for this [undelivered Jack Ma] consignment,” Obure told the Sabina Chege-led committee.

The CAS stated that the 671 packages of Jack Ma donation were transported to KEMSA headquarters in three trucks after being cleared at the JKIA.

Obure said some of the protective and medical equipment Kenya received from Jack Ma include: “laboratory kits, screening equipment, gloves, detection kits and other [medical] materials”, collectively weighing over 10,500 kilograms.

In March 2020, Jack Ma issued out a total of 1.1 million testing kits, 6 million masks and 60,000 medical use protective suits and face shields that were distributed among the 54 African nations.

Each African country received at least 20,000 testing kits, 100,000 masks and 1,000 medical use protective suits and face shields.

“We cannot ignore the potential risk to Africa and assume this continent of 1.3 billion people will blissfully escape this crisis. The world cannot afford the unthinkable consequences of a COVID-19 pandemic in Africa,” Jack Ma stated when he made his earlier donation.

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