COVID-19 response
While the COVID-19 pandemic has yet to come under control, many countries around the world have taken steps to economic recovery. African nations in particular, although prone to severe economic impacts, have shown significant progress in their COVID-19 response. According to the World Bank’s October 2020 Africa’s Pulse issue, GDP growth projections in all regions of Africa are positive for 2021 and 2022 following GDP growth decrease in 2020. This article highlights three countries that are demonstrating optimistic economic growth after COVID-19.


COVID-19 Response Measures: Rwanda has received recognition for its efforts to contain initial outbreaks. This is likely due to the country’s aggressive measures combining public health mandates and innovative utilization of technologies. What separates Rwanda’s response is its reliance on scientific guidance and a high-tech approach to health and social service policies. For example, treatment centers are using human-sized robots for temperature checks and supply deliveries. National enforcement also deployed drones to monitor and ensure compliance with lockdown measures.

Fiscal Policy: The December 2020 update on fiscal policy in Rwanda includes $314 million in economic stimulus, corporate tax exemptions and subsidies, cash transfers to citizens (unemployment benefits) and food assistance. Rwanda’s financial capacity proved beyond national resources but international support was able to expand it. UNDP Rwanda and the World Bank are currently working closely with the Rwanda Ministry of Finance to discern how much the COVID-19 response plan will need for operation.

Monetary Policy: The National Bank of Rwanda reduced the policy interest rate to 4.5%. It has further plans to establish liquidity and digital payment support measures. In Africa’s Pulse, the World Bank classifies Rwanda as the only country established in the Growth Taxonomy in sub-Saharan Africa. The taxonomy compares pre-pandemic performance to mid-pandemic growth. Expectations have determined that Rwanda will achieve the highest post-pandemic recovery with a GDP growth of 7%. With economic drivers like vaccine campaigns and investment and trade boosts, countries like Rwanda and Tanzania expect GDP increases. East Africa in general is expected to reach 5.1% GDP growth as opposed to the continental average at 3.2%.


COVID-19 Response Measures: Kenya adopted many of the common direct response measures, such as a widespread lockdown. Additionally, the U.N. praised Kenya’s maintenance of well-equipped emergency treatment hospitals to best accommodate not only Kenyan patients but also U.N. personnel and partners. Kenya’s hospitals can also potentially play an important role in regional humanitarian development.

Fiscal Policy: Kenya announced a $534 million economic stimulus, a $377 million COVID-19 health expenditure, corporate tax exemptions and subsidies, cash transfers to citizens and food assistance. Like other African countries, Kenya is receiving financial assistance from major international entities such as the World Bank and the E.U. With 86 different donors, Kenya received Ksh 194,663,072,350 ($177,3769,915.25) for COVID-19 response plans.

Monetary Policy: The Central Bank of Kenya reduced the policy interest rate to 7% and planned liquidity support measures. Additionally, the government launched the National Hygiene Program (Kazi Mtaani) to reduce pandemic-induced unemployment. It offers employment with daily wages to the hardest-hit communities. Jobs include street cleaning, garbage collection and disinfection. Kenya’s trade activities also indicate promising economic recovery. According to the World Bank’s Africa’s Pulse, Kenyan exports have already recovered rapidly and have surpassed pre-pandemic highs.


COVID-19 Response Measures: The World Bank highlighted Senegal as demonstrating a successful health response to COVID-19. Swift responses were key, particularly in regards to test capacity, quarantine facilities and ventilators. Preventative measures also included temperature checks and hand sanitizer distribution. By September 2020, 80% of confirmed cases had recovered.

Fiscal Policy: Senegal has an $801 million economic stimulus, a $130 million COVID-19 health expenditure, corporate tax exemptions and subsidies, cash transfers to citizens and food assistance. Some participating entities for Senegal’s financing include the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. For instance, AfDB contributed €88 million to support Senegal’s measures to provide relief to vulnerable households, businesses and job security initiatives.

Monetary Policy: Senegal’s monetary policy is in collaboration with other West African countries, including Benin, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger and Togo. These countries work with the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO), which has made FCFA 4.750 billion ($8,383,750) available to banks and has reduced policy interest rates to 4%. In Africa’s Pulse Growth Taxonomy, Senegal is one of five countries in the top tercile of growth performers. It has a classification of “improved.” Improved GDP growth can indicate the first signs of economic recovery.

The Road to Recovery

As a result of early preventative policy measures, fiscal and monetary policies, international financing and trade initiatives, many African countries have paved a road to post-pandemic recovery. Rwanda, Kenya and Senegal are merely three of the African countries benefiting from smart policy measures and quick COVID-19 responses. In many cases, these countries are experiencing even higher levels of growth than they did before the pandemic. The steps that these countries and others took can serve as a model for how to navigate the economic hurdles of a global pandemic.

– Malala Raharisoa Lin
Photo: Flickr

national hygiene program
Kenya’s National Hygiene Program (otherwise known as Kazi Mtaani) aims to help the hundreds of thousands of Kenyans who lost jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Implemented in April 2020, the program intends to support the individuals and households that are struggling to find work as a result of the restrictions and other issues that the pandemic created.

Impact of COVID-19 in Kenya

Kenya has a population of 51.39 million people and a rapidly growing urban population, which is increasing by about 4.3% every year. As Kenya urbanizes at a quick pace, formal housing in urban areas of the country struggles to keep up with high demand. About 60% of urban households in Kenya live in a “slum,” because informal housing remains the only option for most people.

COVID-19 hit these poor households in Kenya hard, causing over 300,000 Kenyans to lose their jobs. In Kibera, a county in Nairobi and one of the biggest slums in Africa, a survey found that 90% of low-income residents said that they had lost their family income due to COVID-19.

What Is the National Hygiene Program?

The National Hygiene Program is an extended public works project that emerged as a response to Kenya’s growing unemployed population. The goal of the program is to employ young individuals from informal settlements whose former employment has been disrupted by the pandemic. The program also aims to focus on projects that create cleaner, safer communities during the pandemic.

People must meet a few requirements to be accepted into this program. One requirement is that individuals have to be over 18 years old and under 35 years old because the program’s target audience is Kenyan youth. However, there is some leeway in communities that COVID-19 restrictions hit hardest and where youths are less willing to work. Aside from age, other requirements include the possession of a valid Identification Card, registration with Mpesa — a mobile money transferring service — and a verifiable telephone number.

Phase I

The first phase of the National Hygiene Program acted as a pilot, lasting from April 2020 through June 2020 and employing over 26,000 people. Eight counties that restrictions hit the hardest were the first to implement the program. These counties include Nairobi, Mombasa, Kiambu, Nakuru, Kisumu, Kilifi, Kwale and Mandera. In these areas, many people lost their daily wages, and businesses suffered because people could not afford to buy goods anymore.

Across these eight counties, the program targeted 29 settlements. The program paid workers about $1.03 per day, and they worked 22 days per month. In Phase I, the employees completed tasks like street cleaning, access path clearing, fumigation, disinfection, garbage collection, bush clearing and drainage cleaning.

Phase II

The second phase of the National Hygiene Program began in July 2020 and will run for six and a half months. The program has enrolled 270,000 workers and targets 1,200 informal settlements. Instead of employing workers for 22 days a month like in the first phase, the program’s 11-day rotation period will provide work for as many households as possible. Each worker has a daily wage of $0.78, and supervisors have a daily wage of $0.87.

In Phase II, workers will complete tasks like upgrading public sanitation facilities, creating or paving walkways, constructing community gardens and parks and repairing public buildings like offices and nursery schools.

As the National Hygiene Program continues, it hopes to cover all 47 counties in Kenya through later phases of the program. The program will allow Kenyans to escape unemployment while improving their communities, providing refuge from the destructive effects of COVID-19.

Sophie Dan
Photo: Flickr