South-South Cooperation in Crypto Crowdfunding for PPE Mobilization for West Africa

August 4, 2020

10 August 2020, New York – 250,000 disposable surgical masks mobilized by the Finance Center for South-South Cooperation (FCSSC) together with its partners for the West African Health Organization (WAHO) and its 15 Member States have arrived in Abuja, Nigeria through a freight aircraft. The call for donation was initiated by FCSSC on Bithelp.com, a blockchain-based fundraising platform for disasters and crisis responses, with the support from the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC). International logistics for these masks was coordinated by UNDP China Country Office and UNOSSC Cities Project team based in Beijing.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread in the West Africa region, although countries are at different stages of evolution. According to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, as of 28 July, 859,237 confirmed cases and 18,160 deaths have been reported in the continent, among which 122,043 cases and 1,853 deaths were found in West Africa. Despite the improved community surveillance, only about 0.11% of the population had been tested as of 3 June in the region.

250,000 masks mobilized through the Bithelp platform reached a warehouse in Beijing to be handed over to WAHO. Source of image: UNOSSC

250,000 masks mobilized through the Bithelp platform reached a warehouse in Beijing to be handed over to WAHO. Source of image: UNOSSC

To help the Member States curb the spread of the virus, WAHO requested UNOSSC for support in purchasing medical equipment and personal protective equipment (PPE)  through the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

In this context, FCSSC launched a two-week campaign on Bithelp with the support from UNOSSC. FCSSC’s partners on the Bithelp platform pledged donations with various cryptocurrencies. FCSSC then cooperated with PPE manufacturing companies which conduct transactions with cryptocurrencies, for the procurement and shipment of the 250,000 masks.

Dr. Zhong Wu, Vice President and Director-General of FCSSC, spoke on behalf of the organization on this initiative. “We are pleased to cooperate with UNOSSC and WAHO to support West African countries with PPE supplies for COVID-19 responses,” says Dr. Wu, noting that the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19 had just been concluded. According to Mr. Wu, this initiative was FCSSC’s first attempt to utilize blockchain technology for international emergency aid. “Looking forward, we hope that digital technology can unleash its full potentials and play a greater role in South-South cooperation,” he added.

Professor Stanley Okolo, Director General of WAHO, commented in WAHO’s appreciation letter that, as the health institution of ECOWAS, WAHO remained indebted to FCSSC and UNOSSC as they fought to flatten the curve of this pandemic and save innocent lives, including the lives of frontline healthcare personnel.

250,000 masks, mobilized through the Bithelp platform with the support from Taiyi Group, Huobi Charity and Jubi Group, reached a warehouse in Beijing to be handed over to WAHO. Source of image: UNOSSC

“Your donation has truly made a difference by helping us support the COVID-19 response efforts in all 15 Member States of the ECOWAS with critically needed medical materials,” wrote Professor Okolo.

FCSSC is an international non-profit organization registered and founded in Hong Kong SAR of China in April 2014 to promote cooperation and partnerships among developing countries. FCSSC was granted Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations in 2017. In February 2020, FCSSC called for donations to support China’s COVID-19 responses on South-South Galaxy, through which PPE and other needed supplies worth approximately 300,000 US dollars were mobilized.