We Need An African Response To COVID-19.

By Martin Kalunga-Banda.

We should assume that COVID-19 is about to sweep across Africa. We should not assume that the response applied in East Asia, Europe, and North America is the right response in Africa. We need the leaders of the continent is key institutions to develop strategies that balance the unique risks and capacities in each country.

Why is Africa different? Africa is young – with a median age of 20 and mortality rates for COVID-19 are much lower for anyone under 60 years old. Over half the population is rural, which may slow the rate of transmission. Endemic shocks are likely to push people into extreme poverty, and poverty kills. Food systems are labour intensive, rather than managed by a handful of highly mechanized farmers and distributors as in industrialized countries. Hence, with a wide scale lockdown could rapidly constrain access to food, especially if coupled with regional trade restrictions. Health and social welfare systems are not robust enough to respond at the expected scale of demand. Underlying social tensions could trigger mass unrest under the inevitable additional stress.

Why does Africa need its own response strategies? African governments are currently guided by WHO advice, which understandably focuses on reducing transmission. This makes sense if the aim is to contain the virus. But in many countries, leaders need to ask if the second order impacts of any lockdowns might have a more devastating impact on Africa than the virus itself.

How to rapidly develop context-appropriate approaches? As elsewhere, African leaders must make decisions with desperately imperfect information. They need more options and models that project how their choices might not only contain the virus but also impact factors such as livelihoods, nutrition and conflict. Our key institutions have the expertise, but need linking together immediately to forge on integrated African response. There is enough expertise in regard to socio and online technologies to allow the quality thinking, dialogues and decision making to occur without taking away the valuable time that is needed to practically respond to the pandemic. However, quality thinking should not be replaced by mindless action. This is time for reflective praxis.

About the Author:

Martin Kalungu-Banda: Founding Director of Wasafiri, cofounder of Ubuntu. Lab and Visiting Fellow of the Skoll Centre at Oxford Universitys Said Business School.


  1. Sosa

    This Covid-19 pandemic is a chinese manufactured disease which requires taking the Chinese to the isolation centers so that they can be exposed.

  2. Foster's mood

    Its not Chinese it is American. Bill Gates foretold it long ago and he is not a Chinese

  3. Pharaoh

    I think some how, Kaluga Martin Banda sounds sane.We r one of those so called undeveloped countries, it means even the resources will b limited over the lock down issue.Through the guide monitoring of WHO epic centres yes a lock down may be the a day of debate.

  4. Tikambepo

    #Foster’s mood sure! do you need microscopic goggles for u to see or amplified head sets.

  5. chandamostine

    Only Satan

  6. Harness

    We need to lockdown lusaka

  7. saimbwende

    Whether African or Chinese or even European solution as long as results are showing improvement I have qualms anyhow Mr Banda where do you even stay?
    Is it not in Europe stop this pretence if you are so serious about what you are advocating for then leave Europe with immediate effect.
    My brother be real

    • Never Mind

      @saimbwende -Very clearly you did not read the article and more focused on trivial matters that add no value. That said there many people who live outside their home countries who do more for their countries than any locals ever do. Mr Kalungu Banda is one such individual , not forgetting he was part of one of our most successful Zambian govts under Mwanawasa. Be objective and counter the article and not make personal attacks. if you have nothing to contribute just read other peoples comments.

  8. saimbwende

    Whether African or Chinese or even European solution as long as results are showing improvement I have no qualms anyhow Mr Banda where do you even stay?
    Is it not in Europe stop this pretence if you are so serious about what you are advocating for then leave Europe with immediate effect.
    My brother be real

  9. Simeon Daka

    Some People you just say lockdown what are you going to eat,don’t follow these guys who are rich.lockdown you will be just home no work no business these Chinese companies they can’t pay you with out working

    • Fly~C

      Yes my bro ,that is the true saying,
      us Zambians we’re konkelesha richy peoples zoona!
      I SALUTE!¤

  10. christinah brave lee

    The only way to prevent the virus from spreading more is by stopping certain movements we all know Lusaka is like the supplier right now here in Zambia,but we are just so ignorant to stop the cars and people moving about.you know Zambia is a developing country and not everyone is stable for you to bring about a lockdown issue,others depend on hand to mouth you will be thinking you preventing something yet causing something on the other hand unless you say you be giving out free food which we all know is not possible.

  11. Barx chronix

    It’s true


    Lockdown with anger kkkkkkk

  13. Sonax d plazxy

    Iam the only one who can stop the virus from killing innocent people

  14. winston taliban simunthali

    mr martin kalungu banda i salute you for your advise on convid-19,keep it up with your same spirt of advise before we are taken away with the disease

  15. Isaac

    And HH wants a complete lockdown. For whose benefit? For political expedience. A lockdown will lead to more poverty for our people who live on daily handouts. People like HH have enough resources to sustain themselves when a lockdown is in place. Indeed, Africa is peculiar & requires homegrown solutions.

  16. Rachel

    Thank you very much for this sharing. This is very true and the topic is prudent to discuss now, with urgency. How do we learn from the fate of others around the world and shift the ‘rules’ so Africans avoid catastrophy on levels other than the virus? Hunger, looting, crime, disability to lock down living in cramped shacks, the need to shop for food hands in mouth style. Your questions are vital to Africans stability right now…. Let us all unite in finding creative ways to practise Social Distancing and still fostering Ubuntu. Go well and blessings

  17. ZNS

    @isaac even yourself you got enough resources to sustain u the problem is our leaders there so greedy chewing even the things they are not supposed to chew

  18. Chen

    Let the government creat manufacturing industries so that Zambians stop moving into other countries to import good that way will curb the Corona otherwise leaders of the nation help is in this way will not be affected then close the boarders and the plane stations

Comments are closed.