As Coronavirus continues to spread exponentially globally, Africa is expected to be walloped. As of April 11, 2020, Africa has recorded 12, 996 cases, 2147 recoveries, 695 deaths across its 52 countries. Only two countries Comoros and Lesotho, haven’t reported any case so far. Though countries differ with the number of infections they reported, the continent has not been struck as compared to Western States.
Some blame the disparate health impact between the continents on the weakened immune system, while some claim it’s African resistance to the virus. From what we have seen globally, this novel virus knows no color or financial status, which means Africans are not resistant in any way. This fact then raises questions on how prepared Africa is on the fight against covid-19.
Countries like Kenya, are yet to go on complete lockdown, and the condition may get out of hand if the worst happens.
Movements of people have been restricted globally. International travel bans, events cancellations, and public gatherings have been banned, and nothing seems to be moving. Countries like Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa have instituted movement restrictions.
Popular markets closed, Churches closed, Government offices closed, Employees told to work from home
Reportedly, the top government officials of South Africa, Kenya, Malawi, and Rwanda among other African countries have taken salary pay cuts in a bid to raise more funds to fight the pandemic. It’s unclear how their salary pay cut is directly helping to impact the situation in these countries, and how their pay cut translate food on the table of poor families who can’t put food on the table due to movement restrictions.
Africa’s economy is contracting at an exponential rate. Governments are broke, inflation is rising, and the currency is in free fall. According to a report released by World Bank, Sub- Saharan Africa may lose $37-$97 billion in 2020 due to Covid-19. If this pandemic is not contained on time, the economic turmoil the continent will experience could be dreadful compared to developed countries, and could further accentuate the continents’ vulnerability to the 21st century neo-colonial agenda in the region.
Detailed below is how Covid-19 may impact Africa:
Persistent Weakened Growth
Africa has deep ties with China, which is the epicenter of the Corona Virus. The pandemic has hit China hard, and as a leading investor and trading partner to Africa, its economy is expected to stumble. In addition, the outbreak of Coronavirus in China and how reportedly its government is discriminatory towards the African nationals living in China only serves to weaken the trust between the African people and the Chinese.
Moreover, with the trade disruptions that arose during the outbreak, Africa will be hard hit. Bearing in mind that some African countries have not paid their Chinese debts, China may be forced to pull off or reduce its participation with African countries, which in turn will lead to persistent weakened growth.
Companies are closing down, external demand is also weakened due to global supply chain disruptions, and the gross domestic growth is expected to decline. More countries will be forced to borrow to control and contain the virus.
Food insecurity in Africa is not something new, and things may get worse than ever before with weak economic growth. Months before Covid-19 hit Africa, desert locusts had invaded eight African countries (Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Djibouti) and destroyed thousands of hectares of crops.
The locusts have never been entirely contained and are said to be in East Africa still. Due to favorable weather conditions prevailing, scientists say the locusts have high chances of achieving two new generation breeding by June 2020.
International trade has been restricted in some countries to help combat the pandemic. Countries that depend on others for certain goods and services will be exponentially affected. The clear fact, unfortunately, is that a lot of African countries are now heavily relying on Chinese’s imports. The food and pharmaceutical industries are expected to be majorly affected.
The strained health system in some African countries, particularly in the Sub-Saharan region, will be adversely affected if more cases are reported. Though the continent has not been walloped as compared to Western countries, the health system may not be prepared enough to handle the cases if the worst happens.
But this does not mean Africans should sit back and wait for the worst. Taking precautionary measures can help reduce the number of infections.
Aside from economic impact and food insecurity, Corona Virus may actually shape African politics for good. It could serve as an awakener for Africans to value what they have; produce and consume their own goods. With International travel restrictions being put in place, it means that no African high profile politician can seek health attention outside their own country.
This is a wake-up call to all African leaders to rise up and defend their nations. It’s also a call for all Africans to be more heightened in their focus to better their nations. The need to improve weakened health systems and provide quality services without over reliance on external aids, and directives from Western Philanthropists is key. Every election year, politicians are willing to pump billions of money on their campaigns but when Corona Virus was reported, many African countries do not have enough supplies.
Will the impact of coronavirus show on African nations upcoming elections? This is still a question, but it’s fair to predict this impact as the Africans people choose their leaders in the coming future.
Some countries like Ethiopia, Lesotho, Guinea, Mali, Somalia, Tanzania, Egypt, Burundi, and Burkina Faso are set to hold their elections this year. Covid-19 may affect the election date and the result. Some countries will be forced to extend the campaign period.
Speculations on how Coronavirus may impact Africa have become the talk of the day, but this shouldn’t be a cause of panic. If governments take the right measures and work closely with people, defeating this pandemic should not be that hard. Covid-19 brings with it the temptation to succumb to its depressing air, but in fact, there may be a light after this darkness.