Evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic in ACP countries news – Post date: May 15th, 2020.


Schools reopened on 11 May after more than 40 days of closure. The authorities must provide the population with free masks, handwashing facilities, and mass screening for teachers.


From 15 June the authorities will authorise the resumption of Air France’s commercial flights (one flight a week alternately to Yaoundé and Douala until 30 June). Passengers will have to present a negative coronavirus test on boarding, and undertake to self-contain on arrival in Cameroon, where they will have to be monitored individually. The authorities insist on the mandatory wearing of masks and the respect of barrier gestures for passengers and Air France staff. The SABC brewery group has launched a major operation to install nearly 100 handwashing stations in the main markets of the country’s 10 regions, until 15 May. The markets of Yaoundé and Douala, the country’s two main cities, will alone benefit from 38 handwashing stations (Investir au Cameroun, 7 May). Along with many other companies, the Association of Insurance Companies of Cameroon (Asac) has announced its contribution to the National Solidarity Fund to the tune of 120 million CFA Francs while the care and claims due to COVID-19 are not covered by insurance contracts (Investir au Cameroun, 8 May).


On 7 May, the authorities banned all travel from 23 cities across the country for two weeks. From 10 May those who do not comply with the obligation to wear a mask in public places are liable to a fine of 2,000 CFA Francs (€3.50) and possible imprisonment for up to 15 days.


On 7 May, the authorities announced the extension of the containment in force since the end of March until 15 May. A progressive deconfinement plan is due to be announced on 16 May.

Côte d’Ivoire

Following the lifting of restrictive measures in the interior last week, the curfew that was still in force in Abidjan will be lifted as of 15 May with the opening of bars, maquis and restaurants, and authorised gatherings increased from 50 to 200 people maximum (RFI, 14 May). Bars, nightclubs, cinemas and entertainment venues will not reopen until 31 May. The borders remain closed until further notice. The wearing of masks in transport, markets, enclosed spaces and public places remains mandatory.

At the end of March, a plan was announced to support agriculture with 300 billion CFA Francs (€458 million). 50 billion (€76 million) has already been granted, including 10 billion for the food sector (CommodAfrica, 11 May). At a more global level and for all economic sectors combined, under the economic, social and humanitarian support plan, 190 billion CFA Francs (€289.5 million) have already been disbursed: 50 billion for the solidarity fund, 40 billion (€60.9 million) for the SME support fund, 30 billion (€45.7 million) for the support fund for large enterprises, 20 billion (€30.4 million) for the support fund for the informal sector, and 50 billion CFA Francs for the agricultural sector. SMEs, large enterprises and the informal sector include agricultural and agro-industrial operators.


The authorities have repatriated 179 people stranded in Central Africa and Côte d’Ivoire.


On 10 May the authorities announced a ban on gatherings, border closures, and the closure of schools and universities until the end of the month. However, the lifting of travel restrictions that had been in place for three weeks remains in place. There is a massive testing campaign, including for asymptomatic cases, an approach that is unique in Africa. Modern Ghana (5 May) reports the view of a young farmer: the ban on inter-city travel did not allow intermediaries (especially women) to supply the cities by linking production areas and market traders, leading to limited access to food products in urban centres and an increase in prices. This along with falling family incomes means households are favouring cheaper processed products. Around 60 to 70% of the content of food parcels distributed to vulnerable families is from imported sources rather than local fresh foods. One recommendation would be to develop innovative platforms so that young agro-entrepreneurs can participate in the supply of local food products.


As part of the fight against the spread of the virus, the European Union has signed a contract to finance activities by the NGO Terre des Hommes on the Conakry-Koundara road in the west of the country, and in the Nzérékoré Region in the south. The amount of the grant is 25.55 billion Guinean francs (€2.5 million). Handwashing facilities will be installed in more than 3,000 public places, tens of thousands of masks distributed, and more than 1,300 health workers trained.


The state of emergency declared on 26 April ended on 12 May. But the authorities could extend this deadline for the fourth time.


The authorities wish to relax the containment rules in the face of the coronavirus. The reopening of restaurants is effective and the tourism sector could soon resume its activities and schools reopen. Despite the dramatic consequences caused by flooding and locust invasion at such a time, it seems that the cycle crops (onions, tomatoes, melons) planted in early March are now harvested and are keeping markets supplied (Fresh Plaza, 11 May). Although prices have increased slightly, they are still within acceptable margins.


The authorities have announced a comprehensive economic recovery plan, the first phase of which begins in May and will run until the end of December (Taarifa, 11 May). It consists of two parts, the first of which includes monetary policy, fiscal policy and interventions in specific sectors (agriculture, support for the private sector, infrastructure projects for growth and employment, technology and innovation, and mining). The second part concerns the Social Protection Relief and Recovery Plan (SP-RRP). The crisis will impact all sectors of the economy with massive financial losses, business closures and job losses. A Rwf800 billion recovery plan aims to support households and stimulate employment and growth. In agriculture, it targets productivity and food security.


On 11 May the authorities announced an easing of restrictions: from 12 May the duration of the curfew was reduced to 9 pm to 5 am (instead of 8 pm to 6 am). In places of worship, schools, markets and restaurants, which will be allowed to reopen, wearing of masks will be compulsory. Shops will be able to operate 6 days a week, and students taking exams will be able to go back to school on 2 June.


The authorities have re-established the curfew in force since 2 April. From 10 May, it is now from 9 pm to 5 am. Public services should reopen on 11 May from 8 am to 4 pm. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Togo (CCIT) has conducted a survey of 1,084 private sector companies in the country on the consequences of the crisis (AgriDigitale, 8 May). In terms of turnover: 34% of companies saw their turnover fall by more than 75%, while nearly 62% recorded a fall of more than 50%. In terms of employment: 62% of companies have kept all of their employees despite the difficulties linked to COVID-19, and 53% have opted for part-time work. In terms of activity: 24.6% have temporarily stopped their activities, 21.3% have put their employees on technical unemployment, and 13.3% have chosen to reduce their production. The CCIT President reports that if the crisis lasts more than 3 months, 92% of companies think they will not be able to repay their loans and 84% of companies believe they will not be able to pay their employees.


In the first days of the crisis, the markets were the most affected due to the economic downturn. Produce ready to be harvested could not be marketed as restrictions, particularly on transport, meant that agricultural products could not be transported to marketing centres. Citrus, tomato and other vegetable producers were the hardest hit, losing their produce in the fields due to a lack of marketing (The Herald, 12 May). The citrus sector should receive financial support to recapitalise and revive their activities. Once the crisis is over, recovery will be slow because farmers will need help to buy inputs due to lack of cashflow, and production will take some time to return to normal levels. During this crisis, the majority of farmers have not had problems accessing labour, with many people from the mining sector who found themselves unemployed moving to agricultural areas. Farmers dependent on urban labour have been the most affected, as they have not been able to transport people to farms.

(Additional source: RFI, 12 May)

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