The Covid crisis gives Africa the opportunity to change its model

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The economic consequences of the pandemic on the continent are expected to be terrible. But this crisis is also an opportunity to bring public and private actors to work together. It is on this basis that Africa must now move forward.

Imagine a woman in Burkina Faso, working a small plot of land. Containment linked to the coronavirus pandemic has forced it to downsize and part ways with several workers. Her children are no longer going to school so that they can help around the house.

In Ethiopia, a man recently lost the income he managed to earn from selling fruits and vegetables at his roadside stall. Before the pandemic even hit, he was barely making enough money to feed himself and his family. The prices of staple foods are on the rise and he has no idea where he will find their next meal.

In Congo, a young child cannot get vaccinated because of confinement restrictions. As a result of this pandemic, 80 million children worldwide could be at risk of diseases for which there is a vaccine, because routine vaccinations have been interrupted in many countries, including Chad, Ethiopia, Nigeria and South Sudan.

Severe recession

From East to South, via West Africa, Covid-19 has had an impact on us all. Indeed, the global pandemic has set us back several years - in some cases several decades - in the fight against poverty and inequality. We must unite in our response: only by working together can we overcome and recover from the coronavirus.



The world economy is experiencing the worst recession since the end of World War II. At least 37 million people are expected to fall below the global poverty line. Our efforts to make the world a fairer place have stalled. This is the conclusion that the Goalkeepers 2020 report, released by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation last week, came to.

Focusing on Africa in particular, the picture is even more alarming. Economies across the continent are suffering a huge setback. Sub-Saharan Africa can expect to experience its first recession in nearly three decades.

By the end of 2020, it is estimated that at best 13 million Africans are expected to fall below the poverty line and at worst 50 million. There are now more people living in extreme poverty in Nigeria - about half of its citizens - than in India.

Growing inequalities

The economic damage caused by Covid-19 also reinforces inequalities. Progress towards gender equality will be slowed down for generations to come. Although more men are dying from Covid-19, this crisis poses a greater threat to women's livelihoods, due to pre-existing gender inequalities.

Experience from previous pandemics shows that when health systems are strained, maternal mortality rates increase. This is not a coincidence. The elements devoted to the care of women being the most fragile and the most underfunded, they tend to collapse first and more quickly. In Sierra Leone's Ebola outbreak, many more mothers and babies died during or after childbirth than the year before. This "silent death toll" was higher than the official toll of the epidemic.

Closing schools also sharply increases the domestic burden on women. And data from the Ebola epidemic in West Africa suggests that when facilities reopen, girls will be less likely to return, reducing the opportunities for them and their families. future children.

Unprecedented partnerships

However, there is hope. The good news is that shared solutions are making real progress. Despite enormous constraints, African countries are innovating to meet the challenge. We are witnessing unprecedented partnerships between the private and public sectors. The rest of the world can learn a lot from the continent's response efforts.

Under the auspices of the African Union, the African Medical Supplies Platform, an initiative both led and created by Africa, was launched to enable the continent to better cope with the shortages of essential supplies needed to combat the pandemic. In Senegal, Covid-19 test results are available within 24 hours or even faster, hotels have been turned into quarantine units, and scientists are rushing to develop an advanced, low-cost respirator.


More than six months after the start of the pandemic, this country of 16 million people has fewer than 15 cases and 000 deaths and has been recognized as a global model. Rwanda, which implemented containment measures in March with a single reported Covid-311 infection, was also one of the first countries on the continent to reopen and allow its citizens to resume control. during their life.

In Ghana, Kwame-Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and Incas Diagnostics invented an optimized Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) kit to support the national testing regime and implemented bundled solutions to better optimize the ability to test and manage the spread of the virus.

In South Africa and Burkina Faso, efforts have been made to support ordinary people in innovative ways. A public-private partnership with Uber and other transport companies has made it possible for South African patients with chronic diseases to receive their medicines directly at home, without the risk of becoming infected by going to hospitals. The Burkinabè government has meanwhile recognized the important role played by women entrepreneurs in the fruit and vegetable sector, by exempting them from paying for water and electricity as they attempt to safeguard their livelihoods during confinement. .

An opportunity to seize

Too often, our response to the development of the continent occurs in silos - public sector, private sector and donors. But the Covid-19 shows us that the road to recovery and progress must begin by breaking down these barriers and finding collective solutions. It is only through a strong coalition between business, government and development banks that we can craft a response to match the challenge we face, both in Africa and globally.

Here we have the opportunity to dismantle the old ways of working and rebuild a more equitable and resilient continent. We all have a role to play so that this opportunity is not wasted.

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