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This is a significant development considering the swift action that many African governments took in the early days of the pandemic. Many African nations introduced some of the world’s most stringent regulations that placed restrictions on the movement of people domestically and halted international travel from high-risk areas, including Asia, Europe, and the United States. The World Health Organization has praised Africa’s coronavirus response, attributing it to the significant decrease in infection rates over the past few months. Given the relatively low number of infections, a number of government’s across the continent have begun easing COVID-19 related restrictions and re-opening economies. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Africa Centre for Disease Control, the number of daily confirmed cases has been on the decline for about two months, with the continent accounting for just under 5 percent of cases globally and 3.6 percent of deaths, from a population of more than one billion people.

After a strict lockdown period which resulted in gross domestic product contraction of an annualized 51 percent in the second quarter of 2020, South Africa moved from Alert Level 2 to Alert Level 1 of the Risk Adjusted Strategy on midnight of September 20, 2020. This change allowed for, among other things, the re-opening of international borders with some restrictions. As part of the gradual return to regular economic and social activity, government revised regulations relating to gatherings, travel, and curfews for commercial activities. Social, religious, political and other gatherings are permitted under Alert Level 1, as long as the number of people does not exceed 50 percent of the normal capacity of a venue, up to a maximum of 250 people for indoor gatherings and 500 people for outdoor gatherings. Strict health protocols, such as washing or sanitizing hands, social distancing and mask-wearing, remain in place.

The pandemic has devastated the economy of Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria, resulting in a 61 percent year-on-year contraction in the second quarter of 2020, with the World Economic Forum projecting that the economy is set for its worst recession in four decades. The fall in global oil prices, the industry that generates 90 percent of Nigeria’s export revenues, has resulted in increased unemployment.  International flights to and from Nigeria resumed on September 5, 2020, following a five month suspension. Hospitality establishments have been allowed to resume operations at 50 percent capacity, while schools and university have also started re-opening.

With Kenya reporting 38,115 positive cases of the coronavirus as of September 27, 2020, the East African country is considering ways to re-open the economy. A highly contested topic is the re-opening of schools, originally scheduled for January 2020. In the meantime, travel restrictions have been eased allowing the tourism sector to resume operations following months of closure.

For further information, please reach out to Covington’s COVID-19 Task Force at COVID19@cov.com, Witney Schneidman at WSchneidman@cov.com or Mosa Mkhize at MMkhize@cov.com.

This post can also be found on CovAfrica, the firm’s blog on legal, regulatory, political and economic developments in Africa.

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Photo of Witney Schneidman Witney Schneidman

Witney Schneidman has nearly 40 years of experience working across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Drawing on his experience in the State Department, the World Bank, think tanks and his own consulting practice, Dr. Schneidman, a non-lawyer, has advised energy, technology, consumer and health companies, among…

Witney Schneidman has nearly 40 years of experience working across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Drawing on his experience in the State Department, the World Bank, think tanks and his own consulting practice, Dr. Schneidman, a non-lawyer, has advised energy, technology, consumer and health companies, among others, on projects in more than 30 African countries. He has also served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African affairs, and on the Africa advisory committees in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and at the U.S. Export-Import Bank.

Dr. Schneidman provides strategic advice on the varied political, economic, social and regulatory issues that are critical to companies’ success in Africa. This includes issues related to Corporate Social Responsibility, compliance, market entry and risk mitigation. He played a leading role in the passage and recent reauthorization of the African Growth and Opportunity Act and was a delegate to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit co-hosted by President Obama during his visit to Kenya.

Dr. Schneidman chairs Covington’s Africa Practice Group and is a senior member of the firm’s Public Policy Practice Group, the International Strategy Group and the International Trade and Finance Group.

Photo of Mosa Mkhize Mosa Mkhize

Mosa Mkhize is a policy advisor in the firm’s Africa Practice Group through which she provides strategic policy and regulatory advice to clients doing business with and across Africa.

Ms. Mkhize, a non-lawyer, has over a decade of experience in international trade and…

Mosa Mkhize is a policy advisor in the firm’s Africa Practice Group through which she provides strategic policy and regulatory advice to clients doing business with and across Africa.

Ms. Mkhize, a non-lawyer, has over a decade of experience in international trade and public policy. During this time, she has supported senior policymakers and private sector companies on a broad range of issues including policymaking and development, negotiating complex international trade deals, and advocating for policies and regulations related to science and technology. In addition to this, Ms. Mkhize’s capabilities include building strategic relationships and coalitions in support of smart technologies. Furthermore, she is currently working with government officials, private corporations, academia, and the general public on facilitating policies in the smart technology space.

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