Africa, the planets second largest continent, could be the next epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic. Africa needs help. The number of old and emerging new problems is poised to create a powerful Gordian knot that cannot be solved by anyone alone, writes Nathalia Zaiser, Chair of the Board/Founder of Africa Business Initiative Union.
Over the past four months, leading experts around the world, including in Russia, have been diligently analysing various scenarios for the development of a post-COVID economy. The main message is still a forecast based on a global economic recession, that an exit from the deep crisis is a long way off, and that theres been a significant shift in global social values.
The situation is especially tense in developing countries. While a number of states at this stage have been able to stop the spread of the coronavirus infection, everything is a little different in Africa. According to the data of the African Union and the African Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ACDC), as of June 25, 2020, the official number of cases on the continent was 337,315, of which 161,254 have recovered and 8,863 have died. The Maghreb region and South Africa are still leading, and the continent as a whole has shown steady growth in the number of infected people. A pessimistic scenario cant be excluded. Africa, the planets second largest continent, could be the next epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic. It appears that the spread of the virus in Africa has been much slower. This is due to a number of factors, including the insufficient number and quality of tests (especially at the initial stage of a pandemic), the actions of governments themselves (which refuse to provide objective data for their countries), a low level of self-discipline and the general mentality of the population, which in principle is not going to seek medical help. The African continent has historically developed a psychological immunity to especially deadly diseases: yellow fever, Ebola, cholera and others. Therefore, the pandemic situation in Africa is much more worrying from the point of view of rapidly emerging economic and social problems, and not from the point of view of its direct danger to humans. And there are reasons to worry! It is worth looking at the main drivers and sources of wealth in the African economy, which are: the import and export of goods (in the case of exports, this is primarily agricultural products, textiles and food), tourism and international traffic, the energy sector, foreign direct investment, state loans and donor assistance from developed countries and international organisations. The pandemic has made significant adjustments to all of the above positions, setting Africa back at least ten years. One of the main factors has been the suspension of flights, which, in turn, has a direct impact on the main sources of income of the African states international tourism, business, and the supply and distribution of products. For example, Ethiopian Airlines alone provides Ethiopia with 5% of its GDP.