Africa's response to Covid-19 has been good, and could be better

09 July 2020 2 min. read
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While efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19 have been commendable across Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), more action needs to be taken to ensure that the economy can survive the crisis and rebuild in the aftermath. This is according to partner at Mazars Bongiwe Mbunge.

She points to a number of pandemics that have hit African countries in recent years, including Zika and Ebola, which have equipped these countries to rapidly clamp down on an outbreak. As a result, the response across the continent to Covid-19 has been swift and decisive.

According to Mbunge, who specialises in business sustainability at Mazars, Covid-19’s impact on health across Africa has been relatively mild in light of swift containment. She also commends the economic measures that have been taken in some countries to protect the business environment.

“It has also been interesting to see how resources and funds have been made available to support businesses and households in countries like South Africa, Senegal, Morocco and Mauritius through public and private sector cooperation. These measures will be paramount to helping African economies recover over the coming years,” she said.

Bongiwe Mbunge, Partner, Mazars

Nevertheless, economic forecasts for Africa remain worrisome in the wake of the crisis, with the international Monetary Fund predicting that the GDP of SSA will shrink by nearly 2% for this year, while per capital income will drop by nearly 4%. According to the World Bank, more than 20 million people in SSA might be pushed into poverty due to the crisis. 

So while the economic response has been laudible, it needs to be developed further. According to Mbunge, economies in the region need to look abroad for monetary support. China has been a strong economic ally for the region over the last decade, and she recommends that countries leverage this relationship to better cement their place in the global supply chain.

For long-term survival, she also suggests that countries focus on supporting all economic segments, rather than just those in dire need of help. As she explained, SSA leaders have “taken good measures to support lower income segments of the population and the informal sector through efforts like solidarity funds, but we are still missing specific measures for the middle class, which is also severely affected.”

The next step is to safeguard the business environment, giving them the tools to rebuild in a weakened economy over the next few years. For those who are looking, there are opportunities to be found, according to Mbunge. “While there is still much to be done to mitigate the economic aspect, we believe that the continent now has some promising opportunities to grow markets and develop better intercontinental free trade practices,” she said.