COVID19 in Africa: When can Africa reopen to the rest of the world?

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84% of Africa’s #COVID19 cases have occurred – so far in just 10 countries. This is important. For the other 45 African countries, #COVID19 has been a huge economic shock, but it has not – at least so far – become overwhelming.

Nevertheless, these 10 countries join the rest of the world in providing a cautionary tale. But just how cautious are African governments being? When can they begin to welcome tourists and business people, and when will other countries allow Africans to travel over to do business and study abroad?

Our infographic this week sets out all the data you need to make an assessment of who you think is “ready to open up and travel” and those who are not.

But a note of reality – our data collated so far suggests that – despite the positive record so far – few countries outside of Africa are even now willing to admit Africans (even if flights were available). On the other hand, 10 African countries have fully opened their borders to nationals from all over the world, and one of these – Egypt – was the first African country to detect COVID19, has the second largest number of active cases on the continent, and is not imposing quarantine. This is risky behaviour! On the other hand, there is helpful practice already being established – for instance Tunisia has created a “traffic light” system to monitor which destinations should be open or closed, based on the actual data. Others can use this. We also think “reciprocal” travel arrangements such as with the EU could be interesting to explore, alongside of course continued local distancing, mandatory use of face-masks, and clear Standards Of Protocol (SOPs) for tourism-related sectors.

We have particular confidence in countries with over 80% recovery ratios, and case:test ratios of over 100 opening up. Botswana, Djibouti, Comoros, Mauritius, Morocco, Rwanda, Tunisia and Uganda, all stand out as lowest risk to open up, ideally slowly and in a reciprocal manner.

What do you think? Take a look at our data below and let us know your reflections and suggestions for further lines of enquiry.

To find out how Development Reimagined can help you, your organisation or Government during the COVID-19 outbreak please email the team at .

Special thanks go to Rosie Wigmore, Rosie Flowers and Jinyu Chen for their work on the graphic and collecting/analysing the underlying data.

The data was collated from a range of sources including: government websites and media reports, the IMF policy tracker; the US Chamber COVID19 Dashboard; Our World in Data, Africa CDC and Worldometer. Our methodology is entirely in-house, based on analysis of social distancing categories and other trends.

If you spot any gaps or have any enquiries, please send your feedback to us at, we will aim to respond asap.

July 2020

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