Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Executive Director of energy giant Sahara Group, Temitope Shonubi, has said the desire to make a difference in how countries in the continent respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of the physical, mental, and socio-economic well-being of all Africans, was the reason the Group partnered with others in the media, oil and gas, power sector, financial institutions, and government authorities, amongst others, to covert Abuja’s ThisDay Dome into an Isolation centre.
Shonubi said this while taking reporters on a tour of the multipurpose facility built for events which has now been converted to a 300-bed capacity COVID-19 Isolation and Treatment Centre.
He explained that Sahara’s downstream entity, Asharami Synergy, working in collaboration with other members of the Depot and Petroleum Marketers Association in Nigeria (DAPMAN), provided support towards the completion and equipping of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Hospital in Abuja.
Located at the ThisDay Dome in Abuja, Shonubi added that the facility was delivered by a coalition of partners including Sahara Foundation, ThisDay, CCECC, Arise News, The Presidency, Egbin Power, Abuja Electricity Distribution Company, Federal Capital Territory Authority, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the Federal Ministry of Health, the African Finance Corporation, Central Bank of Nigeria through CACOVID, Wood Factory, the Regents school, the three fashion brands of Ebewele Brown, Traffic Clo and Syari Clothiers, Kenol, Mama Cass, 54 Gene and Central Park.
Our resolve to eradicate coronavirus from Nigeria is getting stronger by the Day. CACOVID just transformed the THISDAY Dome in Abuja into an isolation centre. Together, we can beat this!#StayingAliveTogether #Cacovid #WashyourHands #StaySafe pic.twitter.com/vyN4vUQRpu
— Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (@cacovidng) May 8, 2020
Shonubi added that the centre which will be overseen by the Federal Capital Territory Authority (FCTA) under the supervision of NCDC has a capacity of a minimum of 300 beds with additional six plus two Intensive Care Unit beds, ventilators, dialysis machines, protective equipment, and mobile facilities for testing.
Touching on the continent’s effort to flatten the curve of the pandemic, he noted that intra-Africa led collaboration and interventions by the private sector can help the continent bolster ongoing efforts geared towards containing the spread of COVID-19 as well as promote sustainable development across the continent.
Shonubi said leading African businesses can leverage their membership of trade associations, the Private Sector Advisory Group platform of the United Nations and the African Influencers for Development (AI4Dev) platform of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to drive a more cohesive and effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa.
“Sahara Group, through our operations across Africa, has consistently demonstrated its support for intra-Africa led approach to promote economic prosperity and sustainable development on the continent. Sahara Foundation, our corporate citizenship vehicle, conceptualized the Abuja Isolation Centre project, partnered with the ThisDay media group and worked with other partners to deliver a world-class facility that will help save lives. Sahara is also supporting COVID-19 interventions across Africa and is exploring areas of further collaboration with other partners for the benefit of over 1.3 billion people that call Africa home,” he said.
Shonubi said added that “in addition to playing a major role in delivering the centre, Sahara and its entities have been involved in providing personal protective equipment and relief materials to help medical personnel and the vulnerable cope with the impact of the pandemic. We believe the ‘Africa for Africa’ message is one that can bring hope and succour to Africa at this time.”
According to Shonubi, who is also a member of UNDP Africa’s AI4Dev initiative, Sahara Group is also providing dry and cooked food to over one million beneficiaries, face masks, hand sanitisers and relief materials to communities where its power affiliates (Ikeja Electric, Egbin Power and First Independent Power Limited), upstream and other Sahara affiliates operate across Africa.
In Zambia, Asharami Energy Limited Company donated tens of thousands of hand-made fabric/Chitenge masks to shore up access to PPE and slow the spread of the virus. The company also publishes materials in English, Bemba, and Nyanja to facilitate the dissemination of information about the pandemic. In Kenya, Asharami Synergy Limited donated thousands of 5-litre jerrycans of hand sanitisers, whilst oxygen has been donated to hospitals in Ghana as well as Cote d’Ivoire to boost life support operations.