Thursday, February 9, 2023
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BusinessUN picks Ethiopian Cargo hub for Africa’s medical distribution center

UN picks Ethiopian Cargo hub for Africa’s medical distribution center

The United Nations agencies have selected Ethiopian Airlines Cargo and Logistics Services hub in Addis Ababa to serve as Africa’s distribution center for medical supplies.

Representatives of the World food Program (WFP) and World Health Organization (WHO) that visited and evaluated the Ethiopian Airlines Cargo and Logistics Services cargo terminal located at the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport have decided to use the cargo hub as a distribution center to dispatch donations to African countries. The UN agencies have inaugurated the humanitarian hub on Tuesday April 14.

Steven Were Omamo WFP’s country director told Reporters that the humanitarian community has chosen Addis Ababa to serve as a hub to distribute medical supplies in helping African countries in in combating COVID-19 pandemic. “This is an extra ordinary gesture, solidarity and leadership. With WFP we commit partnership Ethiopian Airlines and African CDC to make this a success,” Omamo said.

According to Omamo, Addis Ababa was selected as a distribution center for donations because of Ethiopian Airlines modern and huge cargo facility. “We are confident on Ethiopian Airlines cargo handling capacity and we appreciate the welcoming of the Ethiopian government,” Omamo said.

Ethiopian Airlines Cargo and Logistics Services have started distributing the medical supplies donations from the UN agencies and Jack Ma Foundation (second batch) to African countries on April 14. Ethiopian will also transport medical experts from different part of the world to African countries in assisting the fight against the pandemic.

Boureima H. Sambo, WHO representative to Ethiopia, said that the UN agencies have chosen Addis Ababa to be a humanitarian corridor in augmenting African countries’ effort to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic most of the countries have closed the doors and medical transporting lifesaving medical supplies has become very difficult. So we are happy to have the humanitarian hub in African soil from where we will be able to dispatch lifesaving supplies and devices to African countries,” Sambo said.

The deadly COVID-19 pandemic is fast spreading and exponentially rising in Africa. 52 out of 55 African countries have COVID-19 cases. The first consignment of the WHO donation to African countries has arrived Addis Ababa this week.

Ethiopian Airlines Cargo has distributed 100,000kg of medical supplies donated by Jack Ma Foundation to 51 African countries with in six days.  The airline is now dispatching 160,000 kg of medical supplies from Jack Ma and the WHO. “We thank Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Ethiopian Airlines for this humanitarian partnership,” Sambo said. 

Fitsum Abadi, managing director Ethiopian Cargo and Logistics Services, said that his company has illustrated its cargo handling capacity by distributing the donations from Jack Ma to 51 African countries within only six days. According to Fitsum the UN officials have visited other airlines and airports in Africa but chose Ethiopian cargo terminal for its modern and state of the art cargo facility which is suitable to store and dispatch medical supplies. “We have pharma store with adjustable temperature. We have room temperature, six to eight degree centigrade or can be as low as -23. We also have modern cargo aircraft,” Fistum said.

Ethiopian has a fleet of ten Boeing B777 freighters each having a capacity to transport 105 tons of cargo. It also has two B737-800 with an uplift capacity of 22 tons each. Ethiopian state-of-the-art cargo terminal can handle one million tons of cargo per annum.

Dr. Ahmed Ouma, deputy director Africa CDC, said that the humanitarian partnership should go beyond fighting the COVID-19. “Tomorrow we will have another challenge that we should tackle together so this partnership should continue even after defeating the COVID-19,” Ouma said.

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