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Business and Development

10 Best COVID-19 Response By African Governments

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When the coronavirus pandemic began to spread rapidly across the globe, some African governments responded faster than others. Many African nations followed the western model and closed their local and international borders. To truly contain the virus, it will take more than just border closure. Sadly, for most African nations, that was their best COVID-19 response to date. The best response should include steps to curtail the spread. Also, there should be a social plan to help the needy and most vulnerable.

As of the time of writing this post, Africa has over 25,000 cases with over 1,200 deaths. Egypt tops the continent with over 3,400 cases. We rate the best COVID-19 response by the African governments on our list by a number of factors. This includes the number of tests and efforts made to ease the suffering of the citizens during the lockdown.

In this pandemic, having lesser cases doesn’t necessarily mean less hit. To appreciate the number of cases, compare it to the number of tests the country has performed. Some countries seem to have fewer cases because they are not doing enough in testing. Also, it is important to pay attention to the number of recoveries. This can give a hint to the effectiveness of the health sector of that country. That said, below are our favorite African governments in terms of COVID-19 response.

#10. South Africa (Cyril Ramaphosa)

The population of South Africa is about 57.8 million. As of the time of this post, the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country was over 3,400. However, there have been over 1,000 recoveries with 58 deaths. South Africa is one of the African countries that has done the most tests (126,937 as of April 21). The government was criticized for excessive use of force to enforce the 21-day nationwide beginning March 23. Nevertheless, that restriction seemed to have worked in slowing the spread. Laudable COVID-19 response by the South African government include:

  • Setting up of solidarity fund part of which will be used to care for the sick. Also, part of the fund will help those whose source of livelihood was disrupted.
  • Regulations to prohibit unjust price hikes as well as to ensure shops maintain stock of basic goods
  • Tax relief for businesses and individuals
  • Ensuring uninterrupted supply chain of essential goods

#9.  Rwanda (Paul Kagame)

The population of Rwanda is about 12.3 million. Rwanda’s government has done impressive work in terms of testing. The country has over 150 cases of the virus without any fatalities. Also, about 84 people have recovered. Although the number of tests done so far is not clear, Newtimes report as of March 20 shows the country has conducted over 1200 COVID-19 tests. On April 8, Aljazeera reported that Rwanda has increased its testing capacity to 700 per day. Rwanda’s social and economic COVID-19 response include:

  • Door to door distribution of rice, beans, and flour every three days to the poor and vulnerable
  • Subsidized loans to firms from commercial banks for hard-hit sectors
  • Redirecting April salaries of top civil servants to welfare programs
  • Tax relief measures including the suspension of down payments on outstanding tax and the softening of enforcement for tax arrears collection

#8. Senegal (Macky Sall)

The government of Senegal is doing its best to improve testing and contact tracing. The country with a population of 15.85 million has over 400 cases of the virus with 6 deaths. Also, the rate of recovery in Senegal is one of the highest in the continent (253). Senegal relies heavily on tourism and the sudden stop in travel is taking a toll on the country. Notwithstanding, the government has rolled out COVID-19 responses to support the citizens. These includes:

  • Improved allocation to the health sector (up to FCFA 65 billion)
  • Provision of food aid to the poor and vulnerable
  • Suspension of utility payment for poorer customers
  • Provision of financial support to hard-hit sectors like tourism and transport
  • Deferment of tax payment

#7. Namibia (Hage Geingob)

The government of Namibia is taking steps to protect her 2.44 million citizens from the novel coronavirus. So far, Namibia has about 16 cases of the virus wit 6 recoveries. Notwithstanding the country’s economic challenges, the government has been able to test over 500 people since the outbreak. Although the number of cases are still low, the Namibian government is already rolling out COVID-19 response plan to help vulnerable citizens. The relief measures are as follows:

  • Wage subsidy for hardest-hit sectors including relaxation of labor regulations to protect jobs
  • Loan scheme for small businesses
  • Providing support to vulnerable household and those who may lose their source of livelihood
  • Purchase of more testing kits and medical protecting equipment
  • Subsidy on water supply for the entire citizens

#6. Tunisia (Kais Saied)

The population of Tunisia is just about 11.57 million. However, Tunisia is one of the countries leading in coronavirus testing in the continent (17,558). Tunisia has over 900 cases of COVID-19 with no fewer than 38 deaths. About 190 people have recovered so far. There aren’t many social COVID-19 response packages. However, the government has announced strings of economic packages that will help businesses to stay afloat. Below are some of the plans by Tunisia’s government to assist businesses through the pandemic.

  • Adopting vital and evidence-based public health measures
  • Deferred credit reimbursement by employees for up to 6 months
  • VAT exemptions and refund
  • Expansion of budget allocations for health expenses and purchase of equipment for public hospitals
  • Cash transfer totaling 150 TND million to the homeless, disabled, and low-income households
  • Support package of 300 TND million for those who will be temporarily unemployed

#5. Nigeria (Muhammadu Buhari)

The government of Nigeria is still struggling with testing. So far, the country of over 195 million has been able to conduct just over 7,100 tests. Nigeria is one of the African countries where the government effected only a partial lockdown. The coronavirus cases in Nigeria has been on an exponential rise since the discovery of the index case. The country now has over 850 cases with 28 deaths. The actual number could be higher if the country can improve its testing capability. However, the country has an impressive recovery rate (197). Some of the COVID-19 response by the Nigerian government include:

  • Suspension of import duties on medical gears and supplies
  • Tax rebate of up to 50% for companies that retain their employees
  • A conditional cash transfer to the poor and vulnerable
  • Distribution of food by the state government to the poor and vulnerable
  • Creation of COVID-19 relief fund

#4. Ethiopia (Abiy Ahmed)

Ethiopia is among the most populous African countries (109.2 million). The country is also struggling with testing and measures to contain the virus. So far, the country has done 8,696 tests. Already there are 116 confirmed cases in the country with 3 deaths and 21 recoveries. The government of Ethiopia has a robust social and economic plans to help cushion the effect of the pandemic. However, it is still unclear how the government hopes to get the funds to implement some of the laid down plans. Some of the COVID-19 responses by the Ethiopian government are as follows:

  • Free distribution of protective gears and issuance of directives to commercial drivers
  • Recalling of retired health professionals to ease the burden in the health sector
  • Food distribution to 15 million vulnerable individuals
  • Provision of emergency shelter and non-food items for the homeless
  • Support for enterprises and job protection in urban areas
  • Provision of 15 billion birr to private banks by the central bank to prevent bankruptcies

#3. Uganda (Yoweri Museveni)

With a population of 42.72 million, the government of Uganda is still struggling with testing. The country has been able to conduct 6,661 tests so far. However, this is still impressive when compared to some bigger and wealthier African nations like Nigeria. Uganda has 63 cases of the virus with 46 recoveries. The country is yet to record any fatality which is quite impressive. Since enforcing social restrictions, the government of Uganda has rolled out social and economic COVID-19 responses to mitigate the impact of the virus. They are as follows:

  • Door to door food distribution to the vulnerable in Kampala
  • Revving up of health spending
  • Expedited repayment of arrears owed the private sector suppliers
  • Boosting the capacity of Uganda Development Bank to provide credit capacities for vulnerable private sector companies
  • Deferment of tax payment obligations for affected sectors
  • Provision of water and electricity utilities for labor-intensive public work programs

#2. Kenya (Uhuru Kenyatta)

Kenya is a country of about 51.4 million people. However, the Kenyan government has performed more testing (14,704) than bigger nations. Also, as part of the COVID-19 response, the Kenyan government has taken a number of steps to help the vulnerable as well as protect the economy. The president already agreed to about 80% pay cut. The rest of his salary will go into COVID-19 relief fund. Kenya has about 303 cases of the virus with at least 14 deaths. The rate of recovery is also high in Kenya (74). Below are some of the government responses and economic palliatives.

  • Tax relief of up to 100% for people whose monthly income are below KES24,000
  • Payment of additional income to those who earn below KES24,000 per month
  • Distribution of free water to low-income communities
  • Hiring additional 1,000 health workers to boost capacity
  • Establishment of an emergency fund to cushion the economic impact of the virus. 8.5 billion shillings will go to the elderly
  • Approval of local manufacturing of protective gears

#1. Ghana (Nana Akufo-Addo)

The country of over 29 million is one of the worst-hit in West Africa—or so you will think at a first glance. So far, Ghana has over 1,100 cases and the number of recoveries are not encouraging (99). However, Ghana is one of the countries that has done the most tests in Africa. To date, the country has collected over 68,000 samples. Also, since the arrival of the first two cases, the country has been able to trace 86,000 contacts. Ghanaian government eased lockdown in Kasoa, Greater Accra Metropolitan Area, and the Greater Kumasi Metropolitan Area on April 20. This makes Ghana the first African country to do so. Some of the commendable COVID-19 response by the Ghanaian government include:

  • Use of drones to expedite the transportation of samples to test laboratories
  • Scaling up of local production of PPEs including gowns, head covers, nose masks, and sanitizers
  • Creation of GH¢1.2 billion Coronavirus Alleviation Programme for providing food for the most vulnerable as well as water for all Ghanaians.
  • Improved benefits for health workers
  • GH¢600 million to assist micro, small and medium-scale businesses
  • Absorbing electricity bill of one million active customers as well as a 50% subsidy to all other customers for three months
  • Handing out of food packs to vulnerable people in Accra and Kumasi

The COVID-19 response by the governments of Morocco, Cameroon, and the Gambia are also commendable. One thing is clear, without robust social packages by the governments of African nations, hunger may kill more people than the virus. Also, adequate economic relief will ensure most countries bounce back after the pandemic. If your country has social or economic packages please share with us in the comment box below. Also, we would love to know how effective these packages are.

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