Impact of Covid-19 in Africa, Article by Vangelis Kamaris

Africa’s Post-COVID-19 Recovery

 In the context of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the African continent, which is home to 17% of the world's population, had officially recorded around 5.0 million COVID-19 infections and under 130,000 deaths, which is minor portion of the infections recorded globally (as of May 2021),suggesting the outcomes have been less severe among African populations.Although it must be noted that the figures may not be accurate, considering that the number of tests were significantly lower than in the Western countries(less than 50.0 mio in the whole region so far)and therefore actual infections and deaths caused by COVID-19 are estimated to be considerably higher than those officially registered.

 Below are some of the main reasons for Africa's lower case-fatality ratio for COVID-19:

 Africa has a younger population and fewer elderly care homes than other continents,which played an important in containing the spread of COVID-19;

  • The population density in urban areas is lower than Europe and therefore maintaining social distance is much easier;
  • The underdeveloped transport system within and between countries means that Africans do not travel as much as people do in more developed economies, minimising contact;
  • The favourable climate is most African countries is also believed to be one of the factors that helped to contain the spread of the virus, as it had an easier time spreading in lower temperatures and humidity;
  • Africa has also had greater experience in the management of epidemics in the past, which enabled countries to have a quick reaction as soon as the virus appeared.

 However, despite these significant advantages in dealing with the pandemic, African countries are yet to see the light at the end of the tunnel of the COVID-19 crisis.

The disruption to trade and tourism, suspension of investments, and impact of lockdowns and other restrictions have sent the region’s economies into a tailspin. The GDP on the African continent fell by 2.6% in 2020 for the first time in 30 years.Moreover, according to the World Bank, Covid-19 could push up millions of people into extreme poverty, in Sub-Saharan Africa alone, erasing at least five years of progress in fighting poverty. The exit from the economic crisis is almost certain to be slower in Africa, particularly in countries that do not have the capacity to deploy economic support or recovery plans of a scale comparable to those put in place in European countries.

 African Post-pandemic Priorities

 Recover from COVID-19

In the developed world, the launch of vaccination campaigns and the first positive results of the economic crisis mitigation measures have given countries a significant head start in the race for adaptation to the new post-COVID-19 economic context. However, due to the global competition for vaccines, African countries have not been as successful in obtaining supplies as the more developed countries so far.Moreover, the region is not expected to widely receive COVID-19 vaccines until 2023, as the COVAXmechanism, under which countries have decided to pool their resources to support the development of effective vaccines and ensure equitable access for all, is expected to cover only 20% of the African population. Hence, it is imperative thatmore vaccines become available across the African continent as soon as possible, since the access to vaccines will have decisive economic implications for African countries in the coming year.

 Private sector &strategic partnerships between Europe and Africa

Africa will have to take charge of its own future by building a new kind of partnership with the private sector - both at the national and international level - so as to secure the financing needed for their economic recovery and mitigate the medium and long-term impact of the crisis.The current health context, for instance, increases the need for European and African countries to strengthen their local capacities for the production and distribution of essential health products such as vaccine tests and treatments, in order to be able to react quickly to emerging diseases. Through strategic partnerships between European and African companies, it would be possible to manufacture and distribute vaccines on both continents.

 Foreign aid & the role of the European Union

The pandemic has generated an urgent need for increased international support for Africa within the framework of a more modern form of multilateralism.Foreign governments have tried to respond and at least 24 countries have provided medical supplies and financial assistance to sub-Saharan Africa between March and December 2020.