African academics from different regions have met virtually to deliberate on COVID-19 and the continent’s future developments.

Marking Africa Day, which was celebrated on Monday, the webinar discussed the current challenges in fighting the pandemic and possible opportunities for the continent to emerge with better systems post COVID-19.

Research Specialist at the Africa Institute of South Africa, Dr Palesa Sekhejane, says the purpose of the webinar was to explore what countries are doing with regards to COVID-19.

Sekhejane says, “We were deliberating on what are the challenges and what are the opportunities as far as COVID-19 is concerned. I was talking on biomedical challenges or the trajectory the continent needs to take…”

“I touched a lot on where Africa stands as far as vaccine development is concerned, as far as innovation and technology strategy in Africa … and it is centred around human health and prosperity,” added Sekhejane.

Dr Palesa Sekhejane speaks on Africa Day webinar deliberating COVID-19:

The economic impact of COVID-19 on Africa

Africa Day is being celebrated under the cloud of COVID-19 with the impact being felt across Africa. People’s lives have been greatly affected and the economic impact has been catastrophic.

According to Worldometer, Africa’s population as of May 2020 was over 1.33 billion as per United Nations’ estimates.

Research done by the World Bank says one in three Africans (over 420 million) live below the Global Poverty Line.

Many African countries have implemented lockdowns amid the virus. This has meant restricted movement, with many businesses not operating and in most cases, only essential services being allowed to continue. Social gatherings have been banned under many of the lockdown regulations.

The impact of the virus has put economies of African nations under severe stress with many seeking help from organisations like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Countries have also pledged money within their economies to lessen the blow the virus has had on businesses and people’s livelihoods.

In the video below, SABC News Foreign Editor Sophie Mokoena looks at the impact of COVID-19 on Africa’s growth prospects:

Highlights of economic initiatives to combat the effect of COVID-19 in Africa:

  • The World Bank approved a $1 billion loan for Kenya to help it close a gaping budget deficit and tackle the economic shocks from the coronavirus.
  • Nigeria’s economy could shrink as much as 8.9% in 2020 in a worst-case scenario without stimulus, Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed said.
  • Egypt’s central bank will provide up to 100 billion Egyptian pounds ($6.36 billion) in loan guarantees to banks to encourage lending to businesses during the coronavirus
  • Uganda will receive an emergency loan worth $491.5 million from the International Monetary Fund to help cushion its economy from the impact of the new coronavirus
  • The World Bank will grant $7 million to Zimbabwe to help it fight the new coronavirus outbreak that is expected to worsen an already struggling economy and food crisis
  • The African Union (AU) has pledged $1.3 million to accelerate development, production and equitable global access to new COVID-19 essential health technologies.
  • African Investors agree that fast-tracking the African Union’s 5% infrastructure agenda is critical in the fight against COVID-19.
  • Nigeria is wooing local companies to boost manufacturing and food production in the West African country, the central bank said, after the novel coronavirus disrupted imports and created large financing needs.