COVID-19 Likely to Exact a Heavy Toll Among the Malnourished, Sick, and Poor in Africa

The Continent’s Relatively Young Population Is Likely to Be a Mitigating Factor, but Constrained Health Systems and a High Incidence of Malnutrition and Such Conditions as HIV and Tuberculosis Will Magnify the Impact

NAIROBI, Kenya, March 27, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa will probably look different from what has been observed in other parts of the world, according to a new publication by Boston Consulting Group (BCG), titled Fighting COVID-19 in Africa Will Be Different.

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The young average age of the population in Africa is likely to be a positive factor, given that COVID-19 seems to be exacting a higher toll on older patients around the world. However, constrained health systems in most African countries, combined with the prevalence of chronic conditions such as HIV, tuberculosis, and—especially among children—malnutrition are likely to magnify the negative impact. In addition, measures such as social distancing may be challenging, particularly in areas that have high levels of poverty. As a result, deaths in Africa are likely to be concentrated among the malnourished, the sick, and the poor.

“COVID-19 poses a major threat to Africa,” says Patrick Dupoux, a BCG managing director and senior partner. “All stakeholders—governments in Africa, global players and community leaders—must coordinate their efforts to prevent a worst-case scenario.”

An Outbreak in Africa

Africa’s relatively young population could help buffer the continent against the rates of severe cases and fatality observed elsewhere in the world. For example, as of February 11, over 80% percent of the deaths in China due to COVID-19 were among people 60 years old or older. In China, people in that age group account for 16% of the population, whereas in Africa they make up just 5% of the population.

But other factors will create challenges. For one thing, health systems in Africa struggle to meet current needs—let alone manage the spike in demand that a pandemic brings. For example, the most recent data available indicates that Ethiopia and Niger each have just 0.3 hospital bed per 1,000 people, and Tunisia has 2.3, compared with an average of 5.6 beds per 1,000 people in Europe. In addition, significant numbers of adults in Africa have compromised immune systems, mostly owing to the high prevalence of HIV infection and HIV-tuberculosis co-infection, and many children suffer from malnutrition. Such factors could make those adults and children more susceptible to COVID-19.

“If the COVID-19 outbreak in Africa is not controlled, there will be far-reaching repercussions, including for the health of the people, the strength of the economy, and the cohesiveness of society,” says Shalini Unnikrishnan, a BCG managing director and partner and a co-author of the report.

Coordinating the Response

All groups aiming to mount a response to the pandemic in Africa must learn from previous crises and align their efforts up front. Coordination needs to happen at three levels:

  • Governments in Africa are already working together, but they should redouble their efforts to cooperate by sharing data and capabilities and coordinating strategies. Regional unions and the African Union can be powerful drivers of such cooperation.
  • Global groups working to support the pandemic response in Africa—including UN agencies, governments, donors, NGOs, and companies—need to coordinate a cohesive response.
  • All players must bring community leaders into the process from the start in order to build trust and to ensure that people and communities understand and accept potentially challenging constraints.

Lack of such coordination would lead to squandered resources and would reduce the strategies’ effectiveness.

A copy of the publication can be downloaded here.

To schedule an interview with one of the authors, please contact Miranda Stobbs on or contact +44 7886713027/ +254 719860320

About Boston Consulting Group

Boston Consulting Group partners with leaders in business and society to tackle their most important challenges and capture their greatest opportunities. BCG was the pioneer in business strategy when it was founded in 1963. Today, we help clients with total transformation—inspiring complex change, enabling organizations to grow, building competitive advantage, and driving bottom-line impact.

To succeed, organizations must blend digital and human capabilities. Our diverse, global teams bring deep industry and functional expertise and a range of perspectives to spark change. BCG delivers solutions through leading-edge management consulting along with technology and design, corporate and digital ventures—and business purpose. We work in a uniquely collaborative model across the firm and throughout all levels of the client organization, generating results that allow our clients to thrive.

About BCG in Africa

Our presence in Africa includes five permanent offices, in Casablanca, Lagos, Luanda, Johannesburg, and Nairobi, and 7 research centres. BCG projects on the continent cover a large spectrum of industry sectors including Financial Institutions, Energy, Industrial Goods, Consumer Products, Health Care, Technology, and the Public Sector. Our mission is clear: to create positive economic, social, and environmental impact on the continent.

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G-20 Countries Pledge to Inject 5 Trillion USD into Global Economy

The G-20 nations on Thursday pledged a “united front” in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, and said they were injecting 5 trillion USD into the global economy to counter the impact of the crisis.

“Combating this pandemic calls for a transparent, robust, coordinated, large-scale and science-based global response in the spirit of solidarity,” the G20 said in a statement after an emergency online summit.

“We are strongly committed to presenting a united front against this common threat,” AFP reported.

The group of 20 most industrialized nations said they were injecting over 5 trillion USD into the global economy “to counteract the social, economic and financial impacts of the pandemic”. 

“The magnitude and scope of this response will get the global economy back on its feet and set a strong basis for the protection of jobs and the recovery of growth,” the statement said.

As concerns mount for poorer countries with little or no access to capital markets or adequate health facilities, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank have urged the G-20 to support its call for governments to put debt payments on hold.

The group pledged to work swiftly with the IMF, the World Health Organization and regional banks to deploy a “robust” financial package to support developing nations.

On the fight against the novel coronavirus, the leaders committed to a number of measures including sharing research and data, strengthening health systems, and expanding manufacturing capacity to meet demand for medical supplies.  

“To safeguard the future, we commit to strengthen national, regional, and global capacities to respond to potential infectious disease outbreaks,” the statement said.

Due to the Covid-19 outbreak a traditional in-person meeting of the major international economies, the G20, has gone online.

Source: Ethiopia News agency

City Administration Collects 5m Birr support to Combat COVID-19

Addis Ababa  Addis Ababa City Administration has collected today a total of 5 million Birr flexible support to lessen the spread of COVID-19 in Ethiopia. 

The Administration’s packages of support will fast-track 5 million Birr in cash and in kind to assist needy residents of the city to cope with the health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 epidemic.

Moreover, the city administration formed a committee consisted of 10 members to facilitate the support activities.

It is to be recalled that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has called for enhancing the intensity of vigilance and strict adherence to health guidelines and other measures in order to combat the spread of COVID-19.

The Prime Minister stated that this is the time for Ethiopians to redirect their energy from panic, fear and worry towards purposeful contributions.

Since the affirmation of the first case on March of 13, Ethiopia has so far confirmed 12 cases of coronavirus and the country intensified its preventative measures to contain the spread of the virus.

The country has launched a national resource mobilization committee tasked with coordinating efforts of gathering financial and non-financial materials in the efforts to avert COVID-19.

Source: Ethiopia News agency

New Ambassadors Designated to Different Countries

Addis Ababa  Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced today the placement of the 15 ambassadors appointed by President Sahlework Zewdie at the end of February. 

According to the spokesperson of Ministry of Foreign Affairs the ambassadors designated are the following:

1. Berhanu Tsegaye – Ambassador to Australia  

2. Yalem Tsegay – Ambassador to Cuba.  

3. Hirut Zemene – Ambassador to Belgium

4. Markos Tekle- Ambassador to Egypt  

5. Bacha Gina – Ambassador to Morocco

6. Yibeltal Aemero – Ambassador to Sudan

7. Mihretab Mulugeta – Ambassador to Eritrea

8. Nebiat Getachew – Ambassador to Algeria, and

9. Teferi Meles – Ambassador to Britain

In addition, the following are assigned:

1. Adgo Amsaya – Deputy Chief of Mission in Stockholm, Sweden

2. Jemal Beker – Consul General in Manama, Bahrain    

3. Abdu Yasin –  Consul General in Jedda , Saudi Arabia  

4. Legese Geremew – Deputy Chief of Mission in Ottawa, Canada

5. Eyerusalem Amdemariam – Consul General in Dubai, United Arab Emirates   

6. Shibru Mamo – Consul General in Minnesota, USA

Source: Ethiopia News agency

PM Urges Strengthened Preparedness, Strict Adherence to Health Guidelines

Addis Ababa  Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has called for strengthening the level of preparedness and strict adherence to health guidelines and other measures in order to combat the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19 ). 

This is the time for Ethiopians to redirect their energy from panic, fear and worry towards purposeful contribution, the prime minister wrote on his Facebook today.

“As the global community is gripped by the uncertainty COVID-19 has brought about, one thing that is certain is that our level of preparedness and strict adherence to health guidelines and other measures drawn, will determine how we cope and overcome,” he noted.  

According to him, the establishment of the National Resource Mobilization Committee to oversee the pooling of financial and non-financial resources is one of the measures of preparedness for the worst case scenario.

At the Federal level, quarantine, isolation, and treatment centers have been identified and equipping them with the needed materials is in the pipeline. He added that regional governments are following suit.

“This is the time for us to redirect our energy from panic, fear and worry towards purposeful contribution, by pooling whatever resources we have for a national emergency stockpile,” he urged.

Abiy further stated that bank accounts and SMS systems have been set up for anyone to contribute monetarily. A food bank is in the works for our hardworking farmers and producers to donate food supplies.

 “Fully equipping our quarantine, isolation and treatment centers with materials is also needed, as are other consumer goods for the most vulnerable,” he stated.

The prime minister finally called on Ethiopians to demonstrate that we confront adversity by coming together as a nation. “Each of us has a unique contribution to make as well as a responsibility to the home we call Ethiopia!” Source: Ethiopia News agency