Photo by: The Africa Report

Five months after the outbreak of the coronavirus in China, the country has utilized numerous measures to curb the spread of the virus whilst also ensuring that economic stability is maintained. Africa on the other hand, is still in the process of containing the spread within its borders, and different measures taken by governments have yielded mixed results. Many have implemented total lockdowns of their respective countries, but a reluctance by some citizens to abide by these regulations has reversed gains made by these measures. China may have some useful lessons that Africa can implement to help their economies and citizens, but how does the East Asian country’s success translate into an African context?

China begun to implement lockdown measures in January, initially starting with the virus epicenter, Wuhan, but shortly thereafter also in other surrounding cities affected by the outbreak. This proved effective in reducing the spread of the virus at the epicenter, with Wuhan officially ending its lockdown in April. As a result, locally transmitted cases are on the decline, with China instead turning to border lockdowns to limit the exposure to international inbound travelers who could potentially cause a second outbreak of the disease. Despite the economic impact that these lockdowns had on production and trade with other countries, it was a measure that proved vital in China, which is now supplying the world with necessary equipment and technical support on how to contain the virus.

Implementing lockdown measures in Africa, however, was not as well received by Africans as by Chinese people. Vast levels of inequality in many African countries meant that certain citizens experienced varying struggles with their living conditions, with factors such as access to clean water and a sustainable sources of food being denied to some. China’s role as a strategic partner to Africa, however, has proved vital for many countries on the continent, as aid distributed via embassy channels, or through the Jack Ma Foundation, assist African countries that are not equipped to effectively combat the virus despite their attempts through the various measures they have implemented.

While a total lockdown was not as affective in Africa as it was in China, due to different economic circumstances between the two, lessons can still be drawn from China’s success in both curbing the spread, and reviving its economy. China’s role as Africa’s strategic growth partner, in both economic and other traditional terms, has played a unique role in these tenuous times. Leveraging that relationship will aid many African countries to recover after the containment of the virus in their respective countries.

This article is produced by Axis Group and is published in The Econometer section of ChinAfrica magazine (May 2020), an English and French language monthly publication that provides news, views and analysis on all things China, Africa and China-Africa relations.

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