About the project

Since its emergence in December 2019, the novel coronavirus has spread rampantly across the globe, overwhelming health systems and cratering the global economy. In the United States—where federal authorities have failed to perform widespread testing for the virus and have therefore been unable to implement the targeted quarantines of infected individuals that have allowed South Korea to defeat the virus with limited disruptions to everyday life—states and cities have been forced to rely on blanket restrictions of movement, including the closure of most schools and businesses. The economic impact of these “social distancing” strategies has been severe, triggering a recession that is expected to rival the Great Depression in its severity, and leading President Trump to call for a reassessment of the response after less than fifteen days—far sooner than epidemiologists recommend.

African nations are unlikely to enjoy this luxury of choice. With more than 70 percent of African urbanites—approximately 200 million people—residing in crowded city slums, social distancing may prove impossible. And for the 85 percent of Africans who live on less than $5.50 per day, work stoppages will pose an existential threat. So what will African nations do? Will COVID-19 spread across African countries as virulently as it has spread through Asia and Europe, or will Africa’s climate and demographics provide some shield?

This series from the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center aims to follow these questions by tracking developments in key countries across the continent, and adding expert commentary across topical themes.

Tue, Mar 24, 2020

What does the coronavirus mean for Africa?

Will the novel coronavirus prove even more deadly and disruptive in Africa? It depends on the country. Bronwyn Bruton identifies the key questions and sets the stage for the Africa’s Center’s ongoing commentary on the crisis.

AfricaSource by Bronwyn Bruton

Africa Coronavirus

Featured commentary

Featured country case studies

All content

Thu, Aug 6, 2020

Innovating around infrastructure: An interview with Africa50 CEO Alain Ebobissé

Watch Africa Center Senior Fellow Aubrey Hruby’s interview with Mr. Alain Ebobissé, CEO of the Africa50 infrastructure fund, on the role of infrastructure investment in post-COVID recovery, Africa50’s own efforts to support African markets during this period, and reasons for optimism in light of African digitization efforts.

AfricaSource by Aubrey Hruby

Africa Coronavirus

Tue, Aug 4, 2020

As COVID-19 spreads, Africa needs another “London Moment”

Last month’s Group of Twenty (G20) finance ministers’ meeting proved that the international community is too cautious about helping Africa in its time of need. Is the G20 prepared to face the consequences of its inaction?

New Atlanticist by Vasuki Shastry and Jeremy Mark

Africa Coronavirus

Tue, Jun 30, 2020

Private lenders need to step up on African debt relief

While policymakers have called for a moratorium on developing countries’ debt payments, bankers and bondholders have raised the alarm about how such action would decimate their bottom lines. There will need to be another approach.

New Atlanticist by Jeremy Mark and Vasuki Shastry

Africa Coronavirus

Wed, Jun 24, 2020

Pandemic policing: South Africa’s most vulnerable face a sharp increase in police-related brutality

South Africa is one of several nations facing an international outcry over increases in COVID-19 related violence against civilians by security forces bent on enforcing quarantine measures. Since South Africa instituted a country-wide lockdown on March 27, the number of violent incidents by police against civilians has reportedly more than doubled with poor and vulnerable populations most affected.

AfricaSource by Katie Trippe

Africa Coronavirus

Thu, Jun 18, 2020

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta says his country needs ‘fiscal space’ amid the COVID-19 crisis

“Coronavirus is mainly a health issue, and our key focus is ensuring that we keep our people safe,” Kenyatta said. “But this is also an economic crisis because it has resulted in some key sectors hugely affected by lockdowns. We were forced to close our airspace, which affected tourism, a very critical part of our economy.”

New Atlanticist by Larry Luxner

Africa Coronavirus

Wed, Jun 10, 2020

Progress on African free trade: An interview with AfCFTA Secretary General Wamkele Mene

Watch Africa Center Senior Fellow Aubrey Hruby’s exclusive interview with Mr. Wamkele Mene, Secretary General of the African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat, on the status of the agreement and the impact of COVID-19.

AfricaSource by Aubrey Hruby

Africa Coronavirus

Tue, Jun 2, 2020

Afreximbank president champions African free trade alongside COVID-19 response

On Tuesday, June 2, the Africa Center hosted Prof. Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), for a discussion on innovative financing amid COVID-19.

Event Recap by Africa Center

Africa Coronavirus

Wed, May 20, 2020

Responding to COVID-19: An exclusive interview with AfDB President Adesina

Watch Africa Center Senior Fellow Aubrey Hruby’s exclusive interview with African Development Bank President Dr. Akinwumi Adesina on the economic response to COVID-19.

AfricaSource by Aubrey Hruby

Africa Coronavirus

Mon, May 11, 2020

IGAD executive secretary lays out priorities amid coronavirus crisis

On Monday, May 11, the Africa Center hosted a virtual roundtable with His Excellency Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu, executive secretary of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). The discussion focused on IGAD’s response to East Africa’s evolving challenges.

Event Recap by Africa Center

Africa Coronavirus

Fri, May 8, 2020

WFP’s David Beasley warns of dire famines in Africa, Mideast if COVID-19 supply chains damage continues

Up to 300,000 people could starve to death every day if the COVID-19 pandemic ruptures global food supply chains—even more than the roughly 275,000 people who have died of the disease worldwide so far.

New Atlanticist by Larry Luxner

Coronavirus International Markets

Fri, May 1, 2020

The “shadow pandemic” of gender-based violence

While lockdowns and social distancing measures have been essential in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic, they have also produced unintended consequences: increased rates of domestic violence. As COVID-19 spreads in African countries, demand for support services for victims of gender-based violence continues to rise.

AfricaSource by Joanne Chukwueke

Africa Coronavirus

Wed, Apr 29, 2020

US commercial policy in Africa: A new normal?

On Wednesday, April 29, the Africa Center hosted a virtual roundtable on the impacts of COVID-19 on US commercial policy toward Africa. The private discussion featured Ms. Victoria Whitney, the Chief Operating Officer of Prosper Africa, and Mr. Andrew Herscowitz, the Chief Development Officer at the US International Development Finance Corporation.

Event Recap by Africa Center

Africa Coronavirus

Wed, Apr 29, 2020

Africa still sees a massive pandemic in its future, but partnerships may lessen blow

With an uncertain future for the pandemic that lies ahead, the Africa CDC is encouraging pivotal partnerships to act quickly to secure Africa amid haphazardly understood policies, little access to water and sanitation, and resource constraints.

New Atlanticist by Katherine Walla

Africa Coronavirus

Mon, Apr 20, 2020

African private sector mobilizes COVID-19 response

In times when neighbors are competing with each other for medical supplies, the private sector is creating partners out of competitors. Across the continent, coalitions are coming together to support public health responses and fight the virus: a private sector response that is even more important in resource-constrained African countries.

AfricaSource by Aubrey Hruby

Africa Coronavirus

Fri, Apr 17, 2020

Barriers to mass testing for COVID-19 in Africa

Beyond top-line concerns over supply of test kits, other barriers to mass testing for COVID-19 in Africa include logistical constraints surrounding access to rural and densely populated urban areas, limitations on healthcare personnel and facilities, distrust of healthcare workers, and stigma associated with the virus itself.

AfricaSource by Bronwyn Bruton and Neil Edwards

Africa Coronavirus

Wed, Apr 8, 2020

Using Google reports to estimate Africa’s response to COVID-19: A compilation of the data

Google’s newly released mobility reports provide statistical breakdowns by country of residents’ mobility to a variety of common locations including retail and recreation spaces, grocery stores, transit stations, places of work, and residences. This blog pursues a deep dive of the data, remarking on Africa’s varied responses.

AfricaSource by Neil Edwards

Africa Coronavirus

Tue, Apr 7, 2020

Charai in the National Interest: How Morocco is taking on coronavirus

Moroccans have learned that to reach the horizon beyond the deadly virus that they must address the equality gap among themselves. Read Atlantic Council Board Director Ahmed Charai’s latest in the National Interest on how Morocco is taking on the coronavirus.

In the News by Atlantic Council

Africa Coronavirus

Tue, Apr 7, 2020

Using Google reports to estimate Africa’s response to COVID-19: Key findings

On April 2, Google published community mobility reports, showing how different countries and regions are adapting their movements to the coronavirus. By graphing this data, we get a unique glimpse into the state and diversity of African responses.

AfricaSource by Luke Tyburski

Africa Coronavirus

Mon, Apr 6, 2020

Yade in Le Monde: « Seule l’Afrique, avec sa jeunesse en perpétuel mouvement, apparaît en capacité de penser la destinée collective de l’humanité »

In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, African countries have an opening to revive multilateralism. Read Senior Fellow Rama Yade’s latest in Le Monde (en français) for her five-point program on how Africa can embrace this opportunity.

In the News by Atlantic Council

Africa Coronavirus

Thu, Apr 2, 2020

Bello in the Africa Report: Multilateralism in the time of coronavirus

At a time where regional and global solidarity should be the norm, it is the exception. This crisis calls for more (and better) multilateralism; not less. Read Senior Fellow Abdoul Salam Bello’s latest in the Africa Report.

In the News by Atlantic Council

Africa Coronavirus

Thu, Apr 2, 2020

Coronavirus deals a blow to Ethiopia’s elections

On March 31, the government of Ethiopia indefinitely postponed historic elections that were scheduled to take place in August. This makes Ethiopia the first African nation, in what is likely to be a wave of countries, forced to set back highly contentious political contests in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, with significant implications for the outcome.

AfricaSource by Bronwyn Bruton

Africa Coronavirus

Tue, Mar 31, 2020

Watching the spread of coronavirus in Côte d’Ivoire

Similar to many other African countries, the novel coronavirus pandemic poses grave threats to Côte d’Ivoire’s health systems and economy. However, as cases of COVID-19 spike, another problem is arising: the country’s socioeconomic and political divisions are being re-illuminated and could lead to destabilization.

AfricaSource by Maxwell Bone

Africa Coronavirus

Mon, Mar 30, 2020

Coronavirus comes to Sudan

Not yet one year into a historic political transition and in the midst of an economic collapse, Sudan’s future was already hanging in the balance. The addition of a national and global public health crisis now has the potential for a ‘make or break’ impact on the country.

AfricaSource by Cameron Hudson

Africa Coronavirus

Fri, Mar 27, 2020

Tanzania’s mild response to COVID-19 and its implications for the 2020 elections

Tanzanian President John Magufuli received widespread criticism as he encouraged the public to continue to attend places of worship, rather than imposing stringent restrictions to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak. As the number of cases rise in Dar es Salaam, what will the spread in the city look like? With the upcoming 2020 presidential election, will Magufuli use the COVID-19 outbreak as a pretext for seeking a third term in office?

AfricaSource by Neil Edwards

Africa Coronavirus

Thu, Mar 26, 2020

A rough road ahead for Nigeria

Africa’s giant, Nigeria, is awakening to a new economic and social reality as a result of the coronavirus crisis. The country of two hundred million has already recorded over fifty cases and its first COVID-related death. News of high-profile infectees is starting to drive social change and spur calls for stronger government action.

AfricaSource by Aubrey Hruby

Africa Coronavirus

Thu, Mar 26, 2020

COVID-19 in the DR Congo

As of March 24, the Democratic Republic of Congo had only forty-eight confirmed cases of coronavirus, with three dead of the disease. But although Congo is only in the very first stages of the pandemic, the contrast between the degree of state capacity and social discipline that it takes to stifle the disease and Congo’s record on these two counts is particularly worrisome.

AfricaSource by Pierre Englebert

Africa Coronavirus

Wed, Mar 25, 2020

Tough times ahead for African oil producers

The precipitous decline in oil prices related to the coronavirus pandemic will have significant economic knock-on effects in Africa. Central African producers look to be the most vulnerable, but the shocks will be felt everywhere.

AfricaSource by Luke Tyburski

Africa Angola

Tue, Mar 24, 2020

COVID-19 pandemic: In a nation of extreme inequality, South Africa’s poorest are most at risk

A major economy and transit hub, South Africa will be greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. But not all South Africans will be affected equally: nearly thirty years after apartheid, South Africa is still plagued by deep societal divides. As one of the most unequal nations in the world, the virus will affect strata of society very differently.

AfricaSource by Alyssa Harvie

Africa Coronavirus

Tue, Mar 24, 2020

African elections in the time of coronavirus

African elections slated for 2020 are already being affected by COVID-19, with the potential for delays and disruptions to have significant impact on election credibility, political trust, and adherence to term limits across the continent.

AfricaSource by Luke Tyburski

Africa Coronavirus

Tue, Mar 24, 2020

Rwanda’s successes and challenges in response to COVID-19

Rwandan President Paul Kagame has issued a nationwide shutdown that took effect midnight March 21. Two days later, on March 23, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Rwanda doubled overnight to thirty-six, the most in East and Central Africa. Although the government’s response has been robust, many challenges still loom as the Ministry of Health attempts to mitigate the spread of the virus.

AfricaSource by Neil Edwards

Africa Coronavirus

Tue, Mar 24, 2020

Cabo Verde braces for plummeting tourism revenue

When thinking of Africa, the tiny Portuguese-speaking archipelago nation of Cabo Verde probably isn’t the first country that comes to mind. But it is representative of a subset of small island nations, which rely heavily on tourism revenue. Accordingly, although Cabo Verde has only just recently confirmed its first case of COVID-19, disruptions to travel and trade present existential threats to the country’s economy.

AfricaSource by Luke Tyburski

Africa Coronavirus

Tue, Mar 24, 2020

African leaders respond to coronavirus… on Twitter

African leaders have embraced Twitter as a platform to provide updates on COVID-19. This curation of their tweets is meant as a window to the continent’s evolving response.

AfricaSource by Luke Tyburski

Africa Coronavirus

Tue, Mar 24, 2020

What does the coronavirus mean for Africa?

Will the novel coronavirus prove even more deadly and disruptive in Africa? It depends on the country. Bronwyn Bruton identifies the key questions and sets the stage for the Africa’s Center’s ongoing commentary on the crisis.

AfricaSource by Bronwyn Bruton

Africa Coronavirus

Thu, Feb 27, 2020

African countries prepare for a coronavirus pandemic

Given the alarming rate at which the novel coronavirus is spreading, it was always only a matter of time until the pandemic reached Africa. Now that it has, how prepared are African governments to contain it?

AfricaSource by Joanne Chukwueke

Africa Coronavirus

Comments from the continent

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As the global community continues to grapple with COVID-19 (coronavirus), the Atlantic Council is open for business. All business, meetings, and events, however, are occurring virtually. For more information, please view a statement from our President and CEO.

The Africa Center works to promote dynamic geopolitical partnerships with African states and to redirect US and European policy priorities toward strengthening security and bolstering economic growth and prosperity on the continent.