“What happens in Africa is also going to affect other regions of the planet.” This was one of the phrases spoken by the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guinea-Bissau, Maria Nobre Cabral, about the progress of the coronavirus in the African continent. In a virtual meeting, she and Otaviano Canuto, former vice president of the World Bank, and João Bosco Monte, president of the Brazil Africa Institute (IBRAF), discussed measures to minimize the progress of COVID-19 on the continent.
“The markets have been open for a short time. If the situation continues, people will start to have problems to feed themselves,” said Cabral. Also according to her, the pandemic has tested the ties of international cooperation and has sent the message that thinking about health is more important than thinking about wars or investing in armaments. “If COVID-19 affects Africa as it has been said, it is possible that it will gain strength again to affect the world. So this issue is very delicate ”, she contextualizes.
For Canuto, the future after the advance of the new coronavirus can be seen from a positive and negative perspective. “On the one hand, this situation showed that the challenges to be faced in the future need joint actions between countries. However, I fear that this pandemic will reinforce actions that we have followed in recent years, such as countries closing, ” he argued.
According to him, the practice of social distancing, which has been discussed all over the world, needs to be applied together with other assistance measures for the population. “It is necessary for the public sectors to do what we call‘ knowing the poor by the name’ because it is easier to reach these people with the necessary support,” he explained.
Canuto stresses that it is important for the international community to make efforts to minimize these impacts in Africa. He believes that, even after the situation normalizes, it will still be necessary time to regain confidence, which can greatly affect some countries, such as those dependent on tourism, for example.
Currently, the African continent has about 15 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and almost 800 deaths. South Africa, one of the region’s main economies, is the country most affected. Currently, only Lesotho has not registered official cases on the continent.
During the dialogue, the president of IBRAF reinforced the statement that the African continent is one of the major providers of resources in the world. “What happens in Africa, even in the economic field, will affect other regions,” he continued. The role of South-South Cooperation was also not left out of the discussion. The participants agreed that the technical transfer of knowledge and good practices is essential, not only in times of pandemic. And, even with its own real problems, Brazil can serve as an example for Africa. The webinar is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05zq3jkF2ks