Although Africa may escape the worst of the health emergency, concern is mounting
about its effects on economies and public services, writes Africa Confidential (10/9).
As Africa cautiously welcomes the positive news that it looks like it will escape
the worst ravages of Covid‐19 infections, it is also having to deal with the fallout
of several revelations of corruption among officials in their handling of Covid‐19
There have been demonstrations in a number of countries about Covid‐19 corruption.
In Zimbabwe, Obadiah Moyo, the sacked Minister of Health and Child Welfare, awaits
trial on Covid‐related corruption charges. In Somalia, four health officials have
already been jailed for misappropriating funds. In Kenya, where 300,000 people have
lost their jobs because of the virus, civil society activity has grown sufficiently
to persuade President Uhuru Kenyatta to order the Ministry of Health to publish details
of all contracts issued and sums paid out.
Particular attention will be paid to the activities of the Kenya Medical Supplies
Agency (Kemsa) at the centre of an alleged US$400m scandal that has prompted strikes
at ill‐equipped hospitals, and street protests (see main article on Kenya). There
have been further cases in South Africa, Nigeria and Uganda, all relating to greedy
officials trying to enrich themselves.
Beyond this regrettable sidebar, the main focus is turning towards trying to rebuild
economies and strategise how to share in the anticipated vaccine roll‐out.
Resurrecting economies is of course difficult when you hold very few economic trump
cards and depend on others to buy your primary products. So, while public health officials
are still calling for extreme care, the business‐minded are desperately trying to
kick‐start international trade.
Ghana's Kotoka Airport opened to international flights on September 2nd, and Nigeria
reopened Lagos and Abuja on September 5th. In Nigeria, only a reduced number of flights
are allowed, with a total cap of 1,280 international passengers allowed to land at
these two airports each day. No incoming flight can carry more than 200 passengers,
though outbound aircraft have no such restriction on numbers.
But the news comes with complexities: both countries require arriving travellers to
have obtained a PCR negative Covid‐19 test prior to departure, and while Ghana then
undertakes a further test on all passengers prior to them collecting their baggage,
Nigeria asks visitors to isolate for seven days and then take a second PCR test before
The difference in requirements by countries is also a big problem at land borders.
Africa CDC, which is trying to see if it can use its African Union (AU) roots to harmonise
the process, assesses that 25 countries have pre‐departure requirements for visitors
coming into their airports, and six are testing passengers on arrival.
(Africa Confidential 11/9)