COVID-19 and Innovation in Africa

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COVID-19 and Innovation in Africa


t is increasingly becoming evident that the COVID-19 pandemic will not subside anytime soon. Its impact across the world, especially Africa, with its own array of existing development and financial challenges, is multifaceted, daunting and yet to be fully realised. While entertaining optimism about taking control and subverting the threat that the virus poses, we are called upon to think and act creatively, diligently and expediently. This crisis poses a threat to every sector and all aspects of life – we will not simply bounce back to a pre-COVID-19 world. Our contribution as scholars is to offer immediate solutions with potentially lasting impacts that will help Africa prepare for and adapt to the new normal.

This series consists of contributions from African academic and industry experts who aim to offer solutions with potential for preventing and mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on various sectors. All outputs below were published between May 2020 – July 2020.

This series is a partnership of the African Centre for the Study of the United States at the University of the Witwatersrand and the Africa Portal, a project of the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA).


Youth and the digital economy in Africa

Globally, the measures to curb COVID-19 are having unintended effects on the digital economy by encouraging the sourcing of goods and services online, while also highlighting persistent digital inequalities.

John Karuitha


The role of youth in governance and leadership in a post-COVID-19 world

Crises of the magnitude of COVID-19 often deepen the existing societal cleavages, exacerbate the structures of privilege and inequities, and worsen the avenues for social and political mobility.

Gilbert M. Khadiagala


Incorporating Africa’s youth into the AU and UN developmental goals

Africa’s youth are confronted with an increasingly complex socio-economic and political context which is hindering their development.

Lennon Monyae


A call for the development sector to invest in the youth during COVID-19

Several large donors have already begun responding to COVID-19 by re-directing their efforts towards research focused on the virus as well as being more flexible with their existing funding models.

Noxolo Ntaka


COVID-19 and the youth: Opportunities in information and communications

In the words of Roman philosopher, Seneca, “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”. Rather than sit on their laurels lamenting the devastating effects of the pandemic, African youth can spend their energies strategising solutions for personal and societal benefit.

Bob Wekesa


Issues affecting young women in Africa during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has unveiled the crippling inequalities that exist in African societies, where marginalised groups, particularly young women aged between 15 and 35 years, bear the brunt of fragility and disparity.

Luanda Mpungose


COVID-19: A thrust towards home-schooling in Kenya

The pandemic has imposed a massive shift to online and home learning which is a relatively new phenomena for most of the world’s over 1.57 billion learners and over 63 million educators forced out of learning institutions.

Elizabeth Atieno Obura


COVID-19 as an opportunity for African knowledge production

Lockdown has become a metaphor for all forms of state-sanctioned and self-imposed restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. While lockdowns have been highly disruptive, the internet...

Bob Wekesa


The impact of COVID-19 on food security in Ethiopia

This article examines the food security situation in Ethiopia during the COVID-19 pandemic and attempts to glimpse into the future.

Gedion G. Jalata

Messay Mulugeta


COVID-19 has spurred knowledge production in Africa – but to what end?

Momentous occurrences such as the COVID-19 pandemic often create tremendous opportunities for major paradigm shifts in policies and approaches toward improving the management of political and social affairs.

Gilbert M. Khadiagala


From informal worker to African legal subject: thinking through and beyond COVID-19

Ndèye is a young woman who is employed as a domestic worker in Dakar. Like most domestic workers, she is not a native of the capital of Senegal.

Amy Niang

Lionel Zevounou

Ndongo Samba Sylla


Surveying the impact of COVID-19 on Africa's higher education and research sector

Academic and research institutions find themselves tasked with learning how to adapt in real-time in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic that is significantly disrupting the global higher education sector.

Kari Mugo

Naliaka Odera

Maina Wachira


Journalism in jeopardy: Mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on newspapers

The impact of this global pandemic on the media industry is being felt acutely. Hamstrung by loss of advertising revenue and low sales, newsrooms across the world have announced staff layoffs, suspended or cancelled their print operations and downsized significantly.

Ntibinyane Ntibinyane


Tapping diaspora capital for the post-COVID-19 economy

The COVID-19 pandemic has slammed the brakes on most activities globally, with business operations halted, initiatives postponed and some time-bound deals and events summarily cancelled. While this is clearly a drawback at all levels, it also...

Michael Sudarkasa


COVID-19: How to save the African entrepreneur

Nawabisa Ntuli, a hair salon operator in downtown Johannesburg, will remember March 2020 as the month her business was knocked out of the economy. Her salon is among the estimated 2,5 million small enterprises that were ordered to close as as South Africa implemented one of Africa’s strictest lockdowns...

Allen Mutono


Linking energy, food security and health to face COVID-19

As COVID-19 continues to spread in developed and developing countries alike, not everyone has the privilege of applying basic prevention measures such as physical distancing.

Olivier Dubois


COVID-19: Implications for the 'digital divide' in Africa

In a time of social distancing and government-enforced lockdowns to curtail the spread of COVID-19, digital technology has enabled the continuation of work, education and communication.

Yarik Turianskyi


No calm after the storm: Re-imagining the role of ‘the media’ in post COVID-19 Africa

The novel coronavirus disease is like a hydra. A hydra, in Greek mythology, is a serpentine creature that is endowed with several heads. When one head is cut off, two grow back in its place.

Ivan Okuda


(Main image: Getty Images)