The European Business Council for Africa

With over 60 percent of the African continent’s population in rural areas and dependent on smallholder or family farming, the risk from the COVID-19 pandemic to food supply chains, market access and nutrition is high. Lockdown measures have disrupted internal supply chains halting food production. Locust swarms continue to devastate crops in East Africa.

While most cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus have been reported in the U.S. , Europe, and China, the virus is spreading rapidly across the African continent.

The confirmed worldwide cases for the virus have surpassed four million with the current figure being at 5,269,965.

China’s president Xi Jinping “needs Africa more than ever” as Beijing faces a backlash in the West over its alleged role in the coronavirus crisis, a CNN article informs us this week.

It goes on to say that its relationship with Africa is at a “critical and precarious juncture”, citing a letter by African ambassadors last month criticizing the treatment of African residents in China.

The sentiment is part of efforts - mostly by the media and some governments in the West - to peddle the narrative that the coronavirus pandemic has exposed tensions in the China-Africa relationship, putting it on shaky ground.

This ongoing health emergency should push us all to look at new ways to take better care of ourselves and the environment.

Very pertinent in this respect is the so-called One Health approach. The idea is to connect humans, animals, plants and the environment to prevent diseases spilling over to humans. Our latest brief outlines four necessary ingredients for this to happen: (1) a global arrangement for systematic coordination between food and other thematic institutions, (2) the right combination of public and private investment, (3) a one-year roadmap culminating in the 2021 UN Food System Summit, and (4) a combined leadership by three European presidencies of various international bodies – the 2021 Climate Adaptation Summit, G7, G20 and COP26.

COVID-19 has firmly set foot in Africa, affecting all African countries. There is already plenty of material that analyses the European response to the Corona pandemic. But less is known about the quality of the responses on the African continent. We have published a paper examining the different roles played by the African Union and a sample of regional organisations in shaping coordinated responses to COVID-19.

The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung's (FES) Africa Department and EU Office cordially invite you to the second webinar in our  series "What’s the offer? A new partnership between Europe and Africa". In the first webinar we discussed the ongoing renewal of the partnership between Europe and Africa and the impacts of the pandemic on it. In case you missed it, you can watch the recording here.

In 2020, the nature of the cooperation between the European Union and Africa is being negotiated and might profoundly change: a new EU-Sahel Strategy, a new EU-Africa Strategy, the EU-AU summit in autumn, the German Presidency of the Council of the EU, the development of new finance instruments – all against the background of a shaky multilateralism an the challenges posed by the corona crisis. An opportunity to raise the partnership to »a new level«? An opportunity to address not only issues such as security, migration, hunger and poverty but also sustainability, the empowerment of women and youth and fair trade?

The head of the Paris Club, which represents rich creditor nations, this week hinted that more than short-term relief may be needed to help poor and emerging economies deal with spiralling debt.

Borrowing by developing countries has soared in recent years - hitting a record $55tr in 2018 - but Africa is the primary focus of calls for debt relief or cancellation. This despite the continent having a relatively low average debt-to-GDP ratio.

Our latest outputs examine African countries’ responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. This on-going series examines the challenges African leaders face in their near-term responses to contain the spread of the virus; the economic impact of the pandemic;  the looming food crisis in the Sahel and West Africa; the gap in public trust political leaders in Nigeria will need to overcome; and the challenge South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa faces in pushing through economic reforms at the same time as managing the pandemic.

A series of Africa Programme webinars assessed the implications of the coronavirus on elections and democracyits likely impact on development and poverty reduction efforts; and consequences for food security and resilience.

Air Mauritius has announced that it has gone into voluntary administration, citing the negative impact from global travel restrictions imposed due to the Coronavirus.

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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has warned that African airlines are facing a $6bn loss in revenue this year due to the crisis, with passenger numbers expected to plummet by 51%. These estimates are up from $4bn and 32% respectively at the start of April.

With many already struggling before the current crisis, other African carriers will follow Air Mauritius in the coming months. Even Ethiopian Airlines - the continent’s standout success story - is worried about survival

The bad news doesn’t stop there.

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African countries could see the number of confirmed Coronavirus cases skyrocket from thousands to 10m within the next three months, according to new projections from the World Health Organization. 

The warning is the latest in a cascading flow of bad news for the continent. 

From millions facing starvation, to a deep continent-wide recession, blinkered optimism that Africa would be spared the worst of the crisis has turned into warnings about economies on the brink, and years of development efforts being undone.

There is no sugarcoating it - the outlook is bleak.

But is it also hopeless?



Read the full article here