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Covid has pushed 12m Africans deeper into poverty, says group

By Joe Ombuor | December 11th 2020

Kenyan Ministry of health medical workers prepare to take swabs from truck drivers during a testing for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at the Namanga one-stop border crossing point between Kenya and Tanzania, in Namanga, Kenya May 12, 2020. [File, Thomas Mukoya, Reuters]

Projections indicate that the Covid-19 pandemic is sinking Africa into extreme poverty where the majority survive on less than a dollar (Sh111) per day.

The grim revelation came from Ashoka, an association of global entrepreneurs, during the launch in Nairobi of an initiative aimed at supporting African social entrepreneurs at the forefront of grappling with various issues linked to the Covid-19 crisis.

Pape Samb, the Ashoka executive director for Africa said an additional 12 million Africans had been pushed below the threshold of dignified living through the loss of employment opportunities and death of breadwinners who had succumbed to the virus.

“Africa’s coronavirus cases now total over 1.62 million, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention,” Samb said, adding that the virus had greatly affected livelihoods, damaged business operations and government balance sheets, and threatened to reverse the continent’s development gains.

He said Ashoka was building a field of systems change in Africa to accelerate African solutions to foster change-making by engaging social innovators and co-creating with companies, youth and African Diaspora.

“Hence, 13 Ashoka Fellows and three young leaders working on better access to healthcare, education, economic resilience, protection of vulnerable groups and transparency, among other areas, have been selected for a programme to arm them with expertise to alleviate suffering for Covid-19 victims across the continent,” he said. 

Vincent Odhiambo, the Ashoka East Africa regional director stressed on the need for cross-sectoral collaborative entrepreneurship models to help in maximum utilisation of resources.

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