Exploring the impact of COVID-19 on livelihoods in Africa

Exploring the impact of COVID-19 on livelihoods in Africa

20 March, 2020    

The slowdown in economic activity brought about by the spread of Covid-19 has already been felt in the Northern Hemisphere where restrictions to the movement of people and goods are having significant adverse impact on economic growth and individual livelihoods. But what will the impact be on the Global South and Africa in particular? Many countries in the North host migrants from Africa who, through remitting money home, contribute significantly to livelihoods in Africa. In 2017, the value of remittances was almost equal to overseas development assistance (ODA) and foreign direct investment (FDI). In the UK alone, One million migrants, remit $5-billion back to Africa.

Further, the virus has now spread to Africa and the economic impact is being felt in the major regional trade hubs – Kenya, Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa. Many African migrants earn their living in these hubs and then remit money home to support communities in less developed countries. As movement is restricted and more individuals opt to buy goods and services digitally, location-based gig workers will be at the frontline of the impact of COVID-19.

To better understand how these dynamics will play out in Africa and assist development partners, governments and the private sector in responding, Cenfri and Digital Frontiers Institute are hosting a webinar series to understand the impact of Covid-19 on livelihoods in Africa. Specifically, we will explore the impact on migrants and remittance receivers, informal small businesses and gig workers.

The effect on remittances

This webinar was the first of a three-part series which explored the impact of Covid-19 on remittance in Africa and potential responses from governments, development partners and the private sector. It looked at the impact of Covid-19 on remittances in South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia. It looked outside of Africa to understand how fast countries typically take to recover after a crisis or disaster.

This interactive format with short presentations from the panel followed by a Q&A session to stimulate ideas around appropriate responses was moderated by Cenfri’s Director of Insights and insight2impact (i2i) programme lead Hennie Bester and featured the following panellists:

  • Leon Isaacs, CEO of Development Markets Associates Global and former managing director of the International Association of Money Transfers.
  • Olayinka David-West, Academic Director at Lagos Business School.
  • Barry Cooper, Technical Director at Cenfri and former head of consumer banking operation in South Africa for Standard Charter Bank.
  • Nikki Kettles, Head of SADC FI Programme at FinMark Trust.

If you’re interested in finding out more, watch the webinar here or contact Karen Kühlcke.

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