According to projections by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) at the end of June, a recession of 3.2% is envisaged for the economy of sub-Saharan Africa (RFI, 2 July). Africa is still the least infected continent, but the pandemic could accelerate despite the response measures deployed by the various African states. In the past 2 months, more than $10 billion in emergency aid have been granted by the IMF to 29 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Among them, 21 have also benefited from the moratorium on debt owed to international public donors. The IMF forecasts a recovery in growth in 2021, but with a GDP level below that of 2019.
For several weeks now, teams from the Coordination Organisation for the Fight against Endemic Diseases in Central Africa (OCEAC) have been crossing the border zones of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) to raise awareness against the coronavirus (RFI, 29 June). This is particularly the case between the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo, as this transboundary area is a place of exchange for the populations by both land and river.
The EU borders were closed from 17 March as part of the barrier measures to prevent the spread of the virus in EU countries. Since 1 July, France has gradually reopened its borders to 15 countries outside the Schengen area, including four African countries (Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Rwanda) (RFI, 2 July). For these four countries, as for 15 other countries in the world, the borders of the EU are also open. For France, it is specified that a national of an African country residing in France and hitherto blocked in their country of origin, if their country is not on the list of authorised countries, may return to France under certain conditions (valid passport and residence permit; observe 14-day isolation period on return). In response, some unauthorised African countries such as Gabon are applying reciprocity measures and therefore will not issue tourist visas to EU nationals until further notice.
The Ministry of Agriculture (Minader) has announced a possible slowdown of the “agriculture vivrière” sector, +3% in 2020 compared with 3.7% in 2019, due to the Covid-19 crisis, the security crisis in the north-west and south-west regions, and the effects of climate change (Investir au Cameroun, 24 June). However, this risk may be mitigated due to government measures to supply the national market with foodstuffs. For example, to reduce the risk of shortages, the Ministry of Agriculture is encouraging the cultivation of short-cycle food crops, making available to farmers 141,000 certified cassava cuttings, 60 tons of certified rainfed rice seeds, 1.5 million banana plants, 200 tons of potatoes, 6 million cocoa plants, and support for the development of market gardening.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Since 28 June, several services have reopened in the commune of La Gombe, the business centre of Kinshasa (RFI, 29 June). Banks, shops, public administration, restaurants and cafés reopened on Monday. However, the central market (currently being renovated), schools, discos, churches and stadiums are still closed, and the wearing of masks is mandatory on transport. Motorcycle taxis are still not allowed to enter the municipality, although residents are allowed to circulate.
The African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP, 30 June) reports that only three regions out of 16 have not registered any people affected by the pandemic. Since the beginning of the crisis, various sectors of the Ghanaian economy have been impacted, including the agricultural sector. The barrier measures put in place to prevent the spread of the virus have led to the closure of markets throughout the country. The impacts on agriculture could be significant if targeted support measures are not taken. No significant labour shortages have been reported to date, but this cannot be excluded in the future. This crisis comes on top of the consequences of climate change, in particular on agricultural yields due to irregular rainfall. More restrictive preventive measures to prevent displacement could have an impact on agricultural production due to a drop in demand, but also on income and employment.
Lighter containment measures have been announced (RFI, 29 June). For the past three months, three major cities in the country have been confined (Nairobi, Mombasa, Mandera) with a ban on leaving and entering these cities. The curfew is in force from 9 p.m. in the evening until 4 a.m. in the morning. Kenya Airways has announced the resumption of domestic flights in the coming days.
A new generation of locusts has hatched in Turkana, Kenya’s poorest region (Daily Sabah, 30 June). The young locusts are devastating farmland and grazing areas, and when their wings mature the swarms will be able to travel up to 130 km in a day. “The locusts have come to destabilise an already bad situation,” said Daniel Kirura, head of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in Turkana. Kirura fears the swarms will spread quickly, and says teams are working frantically to spray them with insecticide before they become airborne. “Within one week they may mature to swarms that may fly away,” Kirura said. “Our wish is to control them before they leave Turkana.” Turkana is a vast, dry scrubland in northwest Kenya that borders Uganda, South Sudan and Ethiopia.
Since 28 June, Monrovia-Roberts International Airport has been reopened to commercial flights after being closed for 3 months (RFI, 29 June). Passengers will be required to follow health measures on departure and arrival, including mandatory Covid-19 testing, taking of temperature, physical distance, wearing of a mask, or use of a mobile phone tracking application.
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, Nigerian farmers have faced major difficulties in finding agricultural inputs (seeds, fertilisers) because they are scarce and expensive (Covid-19 Food/Future, 28 June). Market traders in large cities can no longer sell their goods normally because of limited opening hours and days, and limited customers. The pandemic has disrupted the entire food supply chain and caused significant changes in production, demand and consumption patterns. For example, consumers are now reducing their food choices to focus more on essential products such as rice, gari and beans. According to the AFEX Commodities Exchange report on Covid-19 and commodities, in the past 3 months some products have seen their sales fall sharply, such as soybeans (–13.5%) and corn (–6%). Sales of other export crops, such as ginger (+5%) and cocoa (+12%), have increased. Rising food prices and falling demand (loss of employment and income) have resulted in lower incomes among traders. For some products (rice, maize, beans, sugar) the price increase is due to an increase in demand and limited supplies (inaccessible farms due to traffic restrictions, high transport costs, closure of some markets in the north due to insecurity where most cereals and pulses are produced).
On 28 June, the authorities announced the reopening of air borders as of 15 July (RFI, 1 July). A strict health protocol will have to be followed by passengers, and the reopening will depend on whether or not the borders in the countries of destination are open. When departing from Senegal by air, passengers will have to respect physical distancing and wear a mask until arrival at their destination . On arrival at the airport, passengers will be subject to a mandatory and free screening test for Covid-19. In case of a negative test carried out less than 7 days before flying to Senegal, the passenger will not be checked. Each passenger will have to fill in a form to retrace their route. Currently, the only international flights operating from and to Senegal are so-called “repatriation” flights, one-way, for Senegalese nationals stranded abroad, or foreign citizens stranded in Senegal. Internal flights resumed on 15 June, while land and sea borders are closed until further notice.
In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, the African Development Bank (AfDB) on June 18, 2009, reallocated $3 million in loan resources to help Togo purchase inputs for the next agricultural season and thus improve food security (Commodafrica, 24 June, Agridigitale, 25 June). The decision is part of the Togo Agri-Food Processing Project (PTA-Togo) which will enable the country to purchase fertilisers, biological pesticides and seeds for about 150,000 small farmers. The agricultural sector accounts for more than 40% of GDP and employs nearly 65% of the working population. The Togolese authorities are taking appropriate measures to avoid a food crisis, if the pandemic is prolonged, by making quality agricultural inputs available to producers. The use of these inputs should make it possible to increase production of maize by 12,700 tonnes, rice by 18,000 tonnes, sesame by 1700 tonnes and market garden produce by 2200 tonnes.