South Africa could soon help finance China’s fight against the novel coronavirus outbreak

Business Insider SA
A man in Wuhan, China.
  • South Africa could soon be contributing to China's fight against Covid-19, the novel coronavirus from Wuhan, by way of the New Development Bank.
  • Originally the Brics Bank, the institution has pledged its "full support, including emergency financing", to China, which has already allocated around R140 billion to stop the infection from spreading.
  • The NBD will be getting involved in future public health emergencies in member countries, it says.
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The New Development Bank (NDB), part owned by South Africa, has pledged unequivocal support for China's fight against the novel coronavirus first detected in Wuhan, now formally named Covid-19.

In a carefully worded statement that first expresses full confidence in China's efforts to date, and its ability to manage an epidemic, the institution said it "is fully committed to supporting China in the time of calamity."

"The Bank stands ready to provide its full support, including emergency financing, and now is in the process of consultations with the Chinese Government concerning specific actions," it said.

The NDB was created, originally as the Brics Bank, by the members of that group: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. In theory the bank is equally owned and capitalised by those countries, but the actual payments of capital towards the bank have not been made at the same pace. According to the bank's last annual report, South Africa had by then contributed $710 million, the equivalent of around R10.5 billion, of its pledged $10 billion in capital. 

The NDB was created to foster cooperation between Brics countries, with a mandate to "mobilise resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in Brics and other emerging economies and developing countries".

But dealing with disease outbreaks in Brics countries is now also part of its mandate, its statement suggests.

"We also look forward to working together and joining hands with our partners, including other multilateral development banks, in supporting the capacity of our member countries to deal with public health emergencies," the NDB said.

To date the bank has approved 51 projects, its latest numbers show. Of those loans, 15% are in South Africa, 10% in Brazil, 18% in Russian, and 28% in each of India and China.

More than half the loans are for transport and energy projects.

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