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Reopening the economy: balancing health with economic and social considerations
30 July, 2020

African cities, as global, regional and national connection hubs with high population density areas, have been the most vulnerable of COVID-19. The virus was slow to reach the continent compared to other parts of the world. However, the infection has grown exponentially in recent months and continues to spread (see the graph). It has caused many deaths and many African countries have declared nationwide lock-downs. The measure has unleashed economic devastation and social disruptions. No one can predict when the COVID-19 will stop in Africa. The continent cannot also afford to remain under the lock-down indefinitely.

It is recognized that the reopening of the economy presents a severe leadership challenge. Consequently, African leaders need to think of a strategy of balancing health with the economy and social considerations. One size fits all approach could not be the right way and the strategy needs to be tailored to the local context. Among others, the SDGC/A likes to share the following general guidance that countries can consider while thinking of reopening of the economy.

Going forward, there should be continued efforts to:

  1. Follow a step-by-step approach of opening the economy based on the best available information and evidence. This approach could allow activities among certain groups of people, businesses, and neighborhoods before others.
  2. Give priority to economic sectors that can reduce the upsurge of the vulnerabilities as a result of the lock-down.
  3. Implement a decentralized approach empowering communities in controlling the spread of the disease, including ensuring the availability of resources and expertise to do testing and imposing restrictions of movement of people infected by the virus.
  4. Use the reopening as an opportunity to build a healthier and more sustainable future that improves the communities’ resilience to other similar shocks and calamities.
  5. Based on the lessons and experiences of COVID-19, consider redesigning and amending the provision of essential services to the vulnerable groups of the society. For example, water and sanitation services that do not fit the conditions of people with disabilities were critical challenges during the lock-down.
  6. Continuous consultation along with open and transparent communication should be among the core strategies of reopening the economy.


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