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Africa Knowledge in Time on COVID-19 Series

May 05-September 29, 2020


Africa Knowledge in Time for COVID-19 (coronavirus) is an initiative the Office of the Chief Economist for Africa at the World Bank, that puts forward crucial question​s and issues for policymakers and development experts on the pandemic in the region. It is a series of virtual policy discussions and seminars, blogs, policy notes and other analytical pieces by leading policy makers, top aca​demics, public intellectuals and World Bank experts on the public health, economic and social dimensions of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic in Africa.

Please note the policy talks are being organized at short notice. Details may be updated prior to the event and new events will be added over time.


    African Digital Solutions to the Education Challenge of COVID-19 When COVID-19 hit the African continent, some schools had already been closed due to conflict, strikes, or worsening storms and floods. The COVID-19 crisis and subsequent lockdowns have sorely exacerbated the challenge of getting an education.
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    TUESDAY JULY 28 2020

    COVID19 in Africa’s Small Island Developing States: the Experience of Cabo Verde, Mauritius and the Seychelles Bertrand Belle, Economic Advisor to the President of Seychelles, Dr. Giberto Barros, Secretary of State for Finance for Cabo Verde, and Dr. Vasantrao Gujadhur, Director of Public Health for Mauritius, will discuss the impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus) on their island states. The panel will also focus on the policy responses of their governments, and structural reform agendas for “rebuilding better” and recovery.  
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    TUESDAY JUNE 16, 2020

    How Can African Countries Create the Fiscal Space to Address the Covid-19 Induced Economic Crisis? Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Speaker, the African Union’s Special Envoy to Mobilize International Economic Support for Continental Fight Against COVID-19 and former Managing Director of the World Bank
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    TUESDAY JUNE 9, 2020

    Afrobarometer Survey Results on Covid-19, Service Delivery and Trust in African Governments
    Professor E. Gyimah-Boadi,  co-founder and chairman of the board of directors (and interim CEO) Afrobarometer
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    TUESDAY JUNE 2, 2020

    IMF Emergency Assistance to Africa on COVID-19: Finance, Debt-Relief and Policy Reforms
    Abebe Selassie, Director of the African Department
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    TUESDAY MAY 26, 2020

    Food Security Implications of Covid-19 on the World’s Poorest People
    Dr. Arif Husain, Chief Economist and Director of Research, Assessment and Monitoring, United Nations World Food Programme
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    TUESDAY MAY 19, 2020

    Stefan Dercon
    No-Regret Policies for the COVID-19 Crisis in Developing Countries
    Stefan Dercon, Professor of Economic Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford, and former Chief Economist of the UK Department for International Development
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    TUESDAY MAY 12, 2020

    COVID-19 Impacts and Policy Responses in Emerging Economies: Balancing Lockdowns and Economic Welfare
    Kaushik Basu, Professor of Economics and the C. Marks Professor of International Studies at Cornell University
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    THURSDAY MAY 7, 2020

    Government Policy Responses to COVID-19 and the Private Sector in Africa: Lessons from Ethiopia
    Dr. Arkebe Oqubay, Senior Minister and Special Adviser to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia
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    TUESDAY MAY 5, 2020

    The Role of Africa CDC in Coordinating Public Health Responses to COVID-19 In Africa
    Dr. John Nkengasong, Director of Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention
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  • COVID-19 and Digital Financial Inclusion in Africa : How to Leverage Digital Technologies During the Pandemic (October)
    Recent evidence suggests that digital financial inclusion could significantly contribute to economic growth, reduce poverty and narrow income inequalities without necessarily causing adverse effects on financial stability given the appropriate regulatory framework. The brief focuses on the impact of COVID-19 on financial inclusion and the potential of robust policy responses. The authors drew on the Global Findex database to showcase policy options that harness maximum benefits from digital technology, promoting financial inclusion and mitigating adverse impacts during the pandemic and beyond.

    A Tale of Africa Today: Balancing the lives and livelihoods of informal workers during the COVID-19 pandemic (September 2020)
    This analysis explores how the living and working conditions of informal sector participants make them the most vulnerable to disease outbreaks. The evidence suggests that higher rates of informality are associated with higher vulnerability to COVID-19, even when we compare countries with other similar features such as population, income level, and health spending.

    COVID-19 Pandemic Through a Gender Lens
    By Amy Copley, Alison Decker, Fannie Delavelle, Markus Goldstein, Michael O’Sullivan and Sreelakshmi Papineni
    This note focuses on the existing gender inequalities in the economic sphere in Sub-Saharan Africa and summarizes how the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic could affect women and girls disproportionately. It draws on impact evaluation research to showcase policy options to help build women's economic resilience and minimize any potential negative impacts during the pandemic and recovery.

    COVID-19 and Trade in SSA : Impacts and Policy Response
    by Kassa, Woubet;
    Measures taken to curtail the spread of COVID-19 have led to a sharp contraction of the global economy and an even larger decline in trade, with significant implications on the livelihoods of people in Africa. Despite the relatively low number of cases, the region's economy would be hard hit due to its high reliance on trade, heavy dependence on commodities, a fragile food system, and limited fiscal capacity to respond. This reinforces the region's inherent vulnerabilities, posing risks of wiping out the gains made in poverty reduction. Countries that have been registering robust growth face rapid growth declines. The response calls for a regional and global coordination to scale up safety nets, facilitate flow of essential goods and ease the region's debt burden to free some fiscal space. There is a need for active policies to support enterprises so that disruptions are not permanent. As they chart their operations beyond the pandemic, countries should reexamine their industrial policies and firms need to rethink their strategies to address emerging uncertainties.

    Africa's Pulse: Assessing the Economic Impact of Covid-19 and Policy Responses in Sub-Saharan Africa
    by Zeufack, Albert G.; Calderon, Cesar; Kambou, Gerard; Djiofack, Calvin Z.; Kubota, Megumi; Korman, Vijdan; Cantu Canales, Catalina
    The coronavirus is hitting the region’s three largest economies —Nigeria, South Africa, and Angola— in a context of persistently weak growth and investment. In particular, countries that depend on oil and mining exports would be hit the hardest. The negative impact of the COVID-19 crisis on household welfare would be equally dramatic. African policymakers need to develop a two-pronged strategy of “saving lives and protecting livelihoods,” This strategy includes (short-term) relief measures and (medium-term) recovery measures aimed at strengthening health systems, providing income support to workers and liquidity support to viable businesses.

  • When the well runs dry: Finding solutions to COVID-19 remittance disruptions
    By Immaculate Nafula Machasio and Nadege Desiree Yameogo | JULY 23, 2020
    The socieoeconomic shocks in the wake of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic compound the hardships for Africans, including migrants far from home. Through remittances, African migrant earnings remain key family income. The diaspora is also critical to the growth and development of African countries. But these remittances are falling sharply during the pandemic.

    Think regionally to act locally: How can a regional community-driven approach address fragility, conflict and violence in a post-COVID19 Africa?
    By Aly Rahim, Johanna Damboeck, Nicolas Perrin | JUNE 25, 2020
    Communities in remote, fragile, and conflict-affected areas of Africa are among the most vulnerable. Community-Driven Development platforms in remote, fragile, and conflict-affected areas of Africa can play an essential role in supporting prevention, preparedness and response to public health emergencies such as the current epidemic.

    How Will COVID-19 Impact Africa’s Trade and Market Opportunities?
    By Douglas Zhihua Zeng | JUNE 02, 2020
    The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to hit African economies extremely hard. According to the World Bank biannual Africa’s Pulse report, as a result of the pandemic, economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa will decline from 2.4% in 2019 to between -2.1% and -5.1% in 2020, depending on the success of measures taken to mitigate the pandemic’s effects. This means that the region will experience its first recession in 25 years.

    COVID-19 in Africa: How Can Social Safety Nets Help Mitigate the Social and Economic Impacts?
    By Christian Bodewig, Ugo Gentilini, Zainab Usman, Penny Williams | APRIL 24, 2020
    Policymakers can leverage social protection programs in response to the COVID-19 shock. Using social safety nets to help save lives and protect livelihoods from the COVID-19 shock is a good investment.