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Regional Response & Economic Recovery: Africa

Strategic Dialogue

Programming Partner: Rwanda Development Board



  • COVID-19 poses the potential loss for gains made by the African continent in recent years. James Mwangi and José Ulisses Correia e Silva reflected on the impacts of COVID-19 in Africa, and the systems that have been most disrupted since the emergence of the virus, which are as follows: the structure of the varying economies; the physical space that African countries have; non-diversified economies that rely on only a few commodities; and, fragile healthcare systems.
  • Clare Akamanzi explained how both supply and demand have been hindered in the wake of COVID-19. Supply chains have faced consistency challenges, affecting jobs and domestic spending. When looking at where one can create greater job opportunities, understanding the structure of the jobs available is crucial. How to bring back activities to where they were prior to the pandemic has taken restructuring and policy, Akamanzi explained.
The role of leadership is critical, not only during the crisis, but also for the future. We should not lose sight of the long-term visions for the future,” Clare Akamanzi
  • Knowing that most young people and women have been greatly affected, Tsitsi Masiyiwa explained that most African countries are hurting in similar ways. With problems existing prior to COVID-19, previous issues have been worsened. Inabilities to cross borders along with internal restrictions have worsened the situation. Communicating and explaining the issue was a key step in ensuring progress, as the fear factor was hindering. The next level was rebooting confidence through identifying opportunities in agriculture and industries that could promote food security.
“It’s all hands on deck. It’s not the responsibility of the government or the private sector—it’s all of our responsibilities,” Tsitsi Masiyiwa
  • Zimbabwe is also facing political unrest, Vivian Onano mentioned, which Masiyiwa explained has resulted in decentralizing at a national level and promoting a massive education campaign in order to assist those most vulnerable.
  • Monica Geingos looked at the issues exacerbated by COVID-19, explaining that it became a mirror to reflect pre-existing problems while also creating new issues. The pre-burdened fiscal space that existed before COVID-19 has only led to greater hurt, causing new activism geared towards enhancing what already exists. The narrative that young people are less likely to be affected by the virus also promotes an inaccurate understanding as all ages are at risk for indirect effects of the pandemic regarding mental health. The First Lady later explained that with the majority of the population not able to access technology, we need to urgently address the issue of inclusivity.
  • “When your population doesn’t trust you, they do not listen to what you say,” Monica Geingos
  • Reflecting on partnerships and aspects that could be improved, Alain Ebobissé explained the need to focus on sustainable infrastructure that puts the human first. Needing massive investments prior to COVID-19, and with government funding proving to be insufficient, private sector participation is critical.
  • Kate Wilson acknowledged the impact of digital technology, and how enabling youth is related directly with infrastructure. With everyone now facing similar challenges with digital technologies, children are able to access education with infrastructure in place.
  • Explaining that efforts to support the regional, national, and continental level will all intertwine in terms of effects, Olusegun Obasanjo examined the multi-faceted challenges facing the continent, and more specifically his home country of Nigeria. Agriculture is one way to involve citizens, as it proves to be an emerging industry in the wake of COVID-19.

Key takeaways & next steps:

  • We need to encourage greater mental health practices in order to ensure that younger generations are aware of, and can mitigate for, the indirect impacts of COVID-19.
  • We must also encourage initiatives that foster trust within the governments of the African continent.
  • The Rwanda Development Board and Africa50 have established a joint venture company to further develop the Kigali Innovation City project, a pan-African focused innovation hub that will house four international universities and innovative firms focused on agriculture, healthcare, and financial services, as well as support commercial and residential infrastructure.


Session Speakers