Africa in the news: COVID-19, Côte d’Ivoire, and Safaricom updates

Africa in the news: COVID-19, Côte d’Ivoire, and Safaricom updates

African governments take varying approaches to mitigate the spread of COVID-19

As of this writing, Africa has registered over 39,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 1,600 deaths , with most cases concentrated in the north of the continent as well as in South Africa.

African countries have enacted various forms of lockdowns, external and internal border closures, and curfews to prevent the spread of the virus. As African Muslims prepare to observe Ramadan , many national governments are now looking to further curb behaviors that risk spreading the virus, while also empowering their citizens to practice their faith. Governments are also taking differing, innovative approaches to ensuring that vulnerable populations are protected, food is accessible to both rural and urban communities, informal vendors can successfully self-monitor, and misinformation is successfully combatted.

Notably, earlier this week, Malawi’s High Court delayed the government’s ordered 21-day lockdown , which would mandate that residents—except for those in law enforcement and essential services—obtain express permission to leave the area around their homes. Now, the fight over the lockdown will move to the country’s Constitutional Court . In the meantime, President Peter Mutharika announced an emergency cash transfer program for the country’s poorest households.

On Monday, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari announced that Nigeria would begin easing restrictions starting May 4 , though he also announced new rules mandating wearing of face masks, imposing an evening curfew, and banning nonressential travel between different regions. The easing of restrictions comes as the Nigerian economy faces severe challenges due to COVID-19 and crashing oil prices. In response to these challenges, earlier this week, the International Monetary Fund approved $3.4 billion in emergency funding to the West African country. Regardless, resistance to lockdown measures is growing, with protests in Lagos turning violent earlier this week.

Meanwhile, tensions over COVID-19 patients are testing regional relationships, as Uganda and South Sudan look to deport COVID-positive Tanzanian and Kenyan nationals, moves that are contrary to World Health Organization guidelines.

Also in South Sudan, implementation of some provisions of the country’s recent peace agreement have been delayed due to the pandemic, as oil prices drop, donor funding is diverted, and movement restrictions hinder security trainings.

In positive news, in an attempt to address the country’s ventilator shortage (Kenya has only 259 ventilators), medical and engineering students at Kenyatta University in Kenya have announced that they are able to manufacture 50 ventilators per week —all up to ISO, Kenya Bureau of […]

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