Charts of the Week: COVID-19 and Africa


This week, the Africa Growth Initiative at Brookings released its annual Foresight Africa report, a detailed look at the top priorities for the continent and recommendations for African and global stakeholders to create and support a strong, sustainable, and successful Africa. These charts come from the new report, but are only a few of the many items that illustrate key challenges and opportunities for the continent. Click images to enlarge.

In his chapter on building a new public health infrastructure for Africa, John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, notes that Africa has experienced fewer cases and deaths from COVID-19 relative to richer parts of the world due in part to quick containment actions and coordination among governments. “However,” he says, “if we only look at SARS-CoV-2-related morbidity and mortality, we miss a large part of the pandemic’s impact and of the underlying vulnerabilities it exposes.”


In their chapter on preserving gains in human development in Africa through and after the pandemic, Jakkie Cilliers (program head, African Futures & Innovation, Institute for Security Studies) and Stellah Kwasi (researcher, African Futures & Innovation, Institute for Security Studies) write that despite the apparently low direct mortality impact of COVID-19 in Africa, “many more Africans will likely suffer due to the impacts that follow reductions in health and other government expenditure,” and that a decade of development progress could be lost, especially on reducing extreme poverty. Nevertheless, Cilliers and Kwasi point to a number of factors that with the right policies and implementation could help Africa “leapfrog” in areas like education, health care, and economic inclusion and productivity.


In his chapter on how COVID-19 can bring the public and private sectors together in Africa, Edem Adzogenu, chairman of the Executive Committee of AfroChampions Initiative, observes that micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) provide 80% of youth employment on the continent, but are facing severe challenges during the pandemic. One in five of these businesses is going bankrupt, 40 million people are falling into extreme poverty, and foreign direct investment is declining. “For African economies to survive these shocks,” Adzogenu argues, “policymakers and private sector actors must work more closely together than ever before,” including working together to smoothly implement the African Continental Free Trade Area.

For more, visit Foresight Africa 2021.