It seems the current pandemic might be a great blessing for Africa even as she would be worst hit by the ensuing economic crises. With the West committed to its own survival from the existential crisis, African leaders will have to rethink many prior assumptions and find new balances for individual and collective conduct In mid-March, a Togolese activist, Farida Nabourema, mocked African elites who used to go to Europe to have their ailments treated, saying: I would like to ask our African presidents who travel to Italy, Germany, France, the UK and other European countries for medical treatment, please, when are you leaving? On April 2, Bloomberg published an article entitled: Trapped by Coronavirus, Nigeria’s Elite faces squalid hospital.
Are things going to change? It will vary from country to country! The vast majority of African countries, after COVID-19, will have to put in place social protection systems to mitigate the suffering of the continent’s most disadvantaged. Kenya and Equatorial Guinea offer excellent examples of countries that have regulated and put in place social protection systems that will survive and outlast our battle against this common enemy. The continent’s poor pharmaceutical capacity has been a source of amazement to locals and foreigners alike. Bangladesh, a poorer country than many African countries, produces 97% of the national demand for medicines, in contrast to Africa which is almost 100% dependent on imports.
The African Union is in discussions with Madagascar over the artemisia annua tonic; a herbal remedy that Andry Rajoelina, President of Madagascar, presented to the world as Africa’s solution to COVID-19. Nigeria’s oil base has caved in as COVID-19 impact on oil prices disrupt market for her only export commodity. Amidst the panic and clutching hunger, Nigeria’s political class continues business as usual, as billions of Naira and millions of dollars from international and local palliative measures find their ways into private pockets, leaving the masses unattended to. There will surely be critical changes in favour of Africa’s emancipation during and after the current pandemic. But the boldness to take the lead will differ from country to country.