COVID19 in Africa: Now comes the Harder Work

NOW Updated Every Two Weeks

As we analysed two weeks ago, the “good news” appearing from the continent in relation to COVID19 cases is continuing.  Africa as a whole is making up a decreasing percentage of the world’s COVID19 cases at around 4.5%, and there are very few countries and regions seeing new significant rises. This is being reflected in policy. Just yesterday, the South African government announced it will reopen international borders from October 1st 2020. Why? Despite still having the largest numbers of active cases on the continent – and being 9th in the world for total cases detected – its curve is finally bending down. That said, social distancing rightly continues in most African countries – including South Africa – and there is mandated use of masks in almost all African countries.

But why do we think, as the title of our article this week suggests, that the hard work begins now?

First, while some parts of the world are experimenting with COVID19 vaccines, most African countries remain behind even just on tests. The amount of testing done across all 55 countries – over 13.6 million in total – is comparable to testing done by countries on their own – such as Brazil or Turkey, and just 8.5% of the tests done in China. A newly opened test-kit factory in Ethiopia will likely help, but it will only make 10 million kits per year. Not only this, most likely, we will see a similar pattern for vaccine distribution, even if a few African countries such as Egypt make deals to manufacture vaccines and/or get low-cost vaccines from  international agreements such as COVAX. More on this in two weeks time. For now, it’s important to realise, that  unless African countries manage to almost eliminate COVID19 cases now, the majority will likely have to continue testing and maintaining social distancing throughout 2021. That will be tough.

Second, while African governments are continuing to increase budgets to support citizens and businesses, unless economies do not grow faster, they will run into difficulties. Sectors such as tourism are still taking huge hits. Trade is still down, although recovering.  Some countries such as Kenya had an initial bolster with increased remittances, but its unclear if this can be sustained.

This month, the UN is having its annual meeting for Heads of State, celebrating 75 years since it was born. While African countries are and will clearly continue to work hard to support themselves, isn’t it time for the international community to provide more support?

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, Samu Ngwenya 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 spending, social distancing, income 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.

September 2020

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