Coronavirus and more....

Weekly updates and information

South Africa’s modelling, Ethiopia’s telecoms, Burundi’s election and Sudan’s US battle : Weekly Update

Covid-19 cases have risen to over 100,000 this week, as policymakers take differing approaches to deal with the pandemic. Ghana and South Africa were some of the first countries to begin easing restrictions while Kenya and Sudan have decided to extend lockdowns. Concerns are mounting over Tanzania and Burundi which have failed to take the virus seriously. Insurgencies in countries like Somalia and Mali have also stoked fears that governments dealing with conflict will be unable to get a handle on the virus.

African leaders have voiced their concerns over the lack of fiscal space to provide comprehensive support packages for the most vulnerable in society. Kenya recently secured $1bn from the World Bank and the IMF approved Egypt’s request for $2.772bn, among many others, but more must be done to support low-income countries, African leaders say. Along with freezing interest rates on African debt, policymakers have called for an initial support package of $100bn to fight Covid-19.

Meanwhile, experts are divided over whether or not Africa will experience a health crisis similar to Europe and North America. The slow spread of Covid-19 in Africa is the subject of great debate with theories including the poor interconnectivity of African cities, the lack of testing kits, the strength of Africa’s health institutions following the Ebola outbreak, and the tough measures put in place by African governments at the onset of the virus.

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Ethiopia is forging ahead with plans to sell two new telecommunications licenses as the government continues on its path to economic liberalisation despite delays due to Covid-19 and postponed elections. The government on Thursday opened up a month-long window for companies to submit expressions of interest, which have included Orange, MTN and Vodacom.

South Africa could see up to 50,000 Covid-19 deaths and up to three million infections by the end of the year as the southern hemisphere winter leads to a higher rate of infection, scientific models showed on Thursday. South Africa has had the most cases in Africa throughout the majority of the pandemic, though it has also conducted the most tests.

Burundi‘s elections on Wednesday passed calmly despite political tension and the opposition accusing the authorities of fraud. Though President Pierre Nkurunziza will step down after 15-years, his successor from the CNDD-FDD party Evariste Ndayishimiye is widely expected to win. Last week, Burundi expelled the head of the local World Health Organization mission, who had criticised all parties for holding rallies despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sudan must compensate the victims of the 1998 al-Qaeda bombings of US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya that killed more than 200 people and injured thousands more, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday.  The ruling leaves Sudan exposed to a $10.2bn judgment delivered by a federal court in 2012, which was partially overturned on appeal. It will further dent Sudan’s hopes of being removed from Washington’s state sponsors of terrorism list, which blocks it from receiving financial assistance from global lenders.

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