COVID-19 Thought Leadership Series Articles
The impact of COVID-19 in Africa, which has its own array of existing development and financial challenges, is multifaceted, daunting and yet to be fully realised. This pandemic poses a threat to every sector and all aspects of our lives - we will not simply bounce back to a pre-COVID-19 world.
In response, we are called upon to think and act creatively, diligently and expediently.
It is with this in mind that the African Centre for the Study of the United States (ACSUS) based at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, and the Africa Portal, a project of the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) and the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), publish this thought leadership series.
It features contributions that draw on the authors’ academic and industry expertise to offer solutions for preventing and mitigating the impact of COVID-19 in Africa. Collectively, these articles constitute a package of multi-sectoral strategies and action plans that should be considered by governments, businesses, the media, civil society and individual actors.
Series editors: Qudsiya Karrim (Africa Portal), Constance Gikonyo (University of Nairobi), Yarik Turianskyi (South African Institute of International Affairs), Bob Wekesa (Wits University/African Centre for the Study of the United States).
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Gilbert M. Khadiagala
Momentous occurrences such as the COVID-19 pandemic often create tremendous opportunities for major paradigm shifts in policies and approaches toward improving the management of political and social affairs. These events could potentially ignite innovations and learning that are critical to social transformations. Equally vital, such crises galvanise attention and resources that are significant in the articulation and implementation of reforms to address existing challenges. Akin to the Great Depression of the 1930s that helped jumpstart the welfare state, COVID-19 may contribute to new approaches to contemporary problems. Similarly, in the aftermath of the 2008 global economic crisis, new institutions such as the G20 and BRICS arose to spearhead reforms.
Amy Niang , Lionel Zevounou, Ndongo Samba Sylla
Domestic workers are amongst the economic victims of the pandemic. The Senegalese state has not made any arrangements to assist people in Ndèye’s professional category and in the absence of strong trade unions to defend their rights, domestic workers are part of the informal economy and will live through the pandemic in anonymity, silence and destitution.
Kari Mugo, Naliaka Odera, Maina Wachira
Academic and research institutions find themselves tasked with learning how to adapt in real-time in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic that is significantly disrupting the global higher education sector. Most of the focus so far has been on western countries, leaving major gaps in our understanding of how Africa's own centres of knowledge production are faring in this crisis.
The media will need to further the conversation already underway in the USA and Europe on how best it can negotiate revenue sharing with tech giants like Facebook, Google, YouTube and Twitter.
Nawabisa Ntuli, a hair salon operator in downtown Johannesburg, will remember March 2020 as the month her business was knocked out of the economy. Her salon is among the estimated 2,5 million small enterprises that were ordered to close as South Africa implemented one of Africa’s strictest lockdowns instituted in attempts to “flatten the curve” of COVID-19 infections.
The COVID-19 pandemic has slammed the brakes on most activities globally, with business operations halted, initiatives postponed and some time-bound deals and events summarily cancelled. While this is clearly a drawback at all levels, it also provides an opportunity to reflect on and plan for a post-pandemic world. A potential area is the deepening of the involvement of the African diaspora via co-investment with African businesses and governments in sectors as diverse as healthcare and manufacturing, infrastructure and agro-processing, tourism and import-export, among others.