The measures taken by certain African heads of state or authorities to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic are triggering reactions in many countries. Last Saturday, Governor of the city of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) had to back off in the face of hostile reactions after the total confinement measure he wanted to impose on the city’s inhabitants. In particular, Congolese parliamentarians and members of civil society have indicated that this measure is likely to create a humanitarian catastrophe or riots if socio-economic conditions do not allow it.
So, total lockdowns or not? Many countries are still hesitant.
In the DRC’s neighboring country of Congo, President Sassou Nguesso on Sunday ordered a 30 day lockdown begining from Tuesday March 31 while Nigeria’s President Mohammadu Buhari ordered a 14 day restriction of movements in the west African country’s commercial and political capitals, Lagos and Abuja respectively.
But for President Patrice Talon of Benin, Benin “does not have the means of rich countries to accompany mobility reductions or confinements” a widely shared and welcomed view on social networks.
Now, according to the World Data Lab, Africa is the world’s last frontier in the fight against extreme poverty. Today, one in three Africans—422 million people—live below the global poverty line. They represent more than 70 percent of the world’s poorest people, the data group says.
Rwanda was first sub-Sahara Africa country to impose total lockdown to fight #Covid19, and early Saturday President Paul Kagame ordered door-to door free distribution of food. It has also been rumoured he is set to announce free electricity and water.
The likely economic impact for a large part of the populations that lives on less than two dollars a day and depends on the informal economy to survive has become a burning topic as measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus in Africa get discussed.