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 country case studies

Featured commentary

All content

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

Tweet us @ACAfricaCenter with the hashtag #coronafrica or email us at [email protected] to add your perspective.

A coronavirus message from our President and CEO

We have implemented a series of precautions and restrictions to ensure the maximum safety of our staff and community during the coronavirus outbreak. With a rapidly evolving situation, we are assessing the situation on a daily basis.

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