How are African countries dealing with COVID-19’s economic impacts?

Updated Weekly

Last week, out of a frustration with the lack of coverage and understanding by our clients as well as the public on how COVID19 is affecting the African continent, we published an infographic that showed how the 55 countries in Africa are faring in terms of numbers and location of cases, as well as information on certain types of preventive measures the countries had implemented: movement restrictions.

This week we are sharing the update on the number of cases – which are sadly continuing to rise in most countries – as well a new set of information about a different set of measures that African countries have implemented in response to COVID19 challenges: measures to support the economy and the poorest people in the countries.  

The findings are fascinating. As per last week, while the number of cases and deaths on the continent continue to rise, they still remain less than 1% of global totals, and countries are still being affected by COVID19 cases very differently. Only 3 countries on the continent have seen over 100 deaths so far, and 50% of African countries still have under 50 cases.

Perhaps as a result of this differential effect, but also – we believe – due to lack of finance for many countries – not all African countries are taking steps to support the economy or the poorest citizens… 

In Summary:

40 African countries have introduced a total of 99 different policies and mechanisms to support the economy and the poorest/most vulnerable in their countries;

20% of these 99 policies and measures are related to tax relief for different key sectors – the most popular measure;

15% of these 99 policies and measures are for targeted cash transfers for poor/vulnerable people – but NO African country has yet introduced a “universal” cash transfer scheme (i.e. a uniform or differentiated cash-handout for everyone);

13 of the 14 African countries that have not yet implemented any economic or social measures at all are Least Developed Countries – indicating that financial/budgetary problems may be constraining them;

10 “top performing” African countries are implementing particularly comprehensive or innovative policies and measures that are worth other countries in Africa and around the world examining and learning from. These top performing countries include some of the poorest in the world, as well as others with more resources. For example: creating open-air social-distance markets for informal sellers (Kenya); making water and other utilities totally free for everyone for 2 or 3 months (Niger and Ghana); giving wage subsidies (Botswana), and increasing wages for women leaders in rural communities (Egypt).

With the global effects as well as the internal effects of COVID19 expected to continue for months ahead, African countries are acting, but need continued support to do so. Check out the data below.


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, Angela Benefo, Wang Yu and Rosie Flowers for their work on the graphic and collecting/analysing the underlying data.

The data was collated from a range of sources including: the IMF policy tracker; the US Chamber COVID19 Dashboard; a specific tracker of social support measures by Ugo Gentilini, as well as government websites and media reports. Our methodology for classification is entirely in-house, based on analysis within four social measures categories and spending data gathered.

If you spot any gaps, please send your feedback to us at, we will aim to verify and rectify asap.

April 2020

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