COVID-19 pandemic in East Africa: analisys and prospects

Publication type Article
Status Published
Occupation: Lecturer, University of Helsinki
Affiliation: University of Helsinki
Address: Finland, Helsinki
Occupation: Lecturer, Department № 1 of English, Moscow State University of International Relations
Affiliation: Moscow State University of International Relations
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow
Journal nameAsia and Africa Today
EditionIssue 9

The article examines the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economic and political situation in East Africa, drawing from reports by leading international organizations in the field issued from March to June 2020. According to these findings, it is tourism, an important pillar of East African economies, and the nascent aviation industries that are going to take the biggest hit, leading to an inevitable spike in external borrowing. The slowly growing interregional trade is unlikely to compensate for these losses. Besides, the pervasive refugee and IDPs problem, as well as widespread HIV are further exacerbating the epidemiological situation.

The article also outlines a number of opportunities to manage the unfolding crisis, which include, inter alia, the existing regional integration tools and instruments, in particular, the ones offered by the East African Community. In addition to the national strategies employed by the countries individually, the EAC could assist in pooling foreign aid to combat COVID-19, which to date remains very modest. In these circumstances, writing off debt is one crucial thing the international community could do to alleviate the burden of the pandemic in East Africa. Another factor that could possibly be playing into the hands of the countries in question is their successful experience in fighting other lethal diseases, such as Ebola fever.

Politically, the way East African governments handle the pandemic might well become a litmus test showing how much confidence the populations have in their leaders, either reinforcing or undermining their positions. If unsuccessful, anti-COVID-19 policies could fuel popular discontent; the opposite scenario implies a stronger vertical of power and enhanced personal authority of the leaders in charge. The authors believe that despite its obviously pernicious influence, this pandemic may well become an incentive encouraging some long-awaited change in the region.

KeywordsEast Africa, COVID-19, pandemic
Publication date28.09.2020
Number of characters20263
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