Support for women informal workers is urgent as pandemic unfolds in South Africa

Photo by Marco Longari/AFP via Getty ImagesEarly in the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Labour Organisation predicted that measures to curb the spread of the disease would disproportionately affect women workers. This has certainly turned out to be true in South Africa. Recent data suggest that under the strict lockdown conditions imposed in April, two-thirds of the 3 million people who lost their jobs were women. For the formally...

Zimbabwe wants to raise money through a sovereign bond. Why this is ill-advised

Central bank (in the background) can no longer perform its function of being the lender of last resort ShutterstockThe Zimbabwean government recently signed an agreement to pay 4,500 white farmers US$3.5 billion for infrastructure improvements on the land expropriated by the government during the chaotic land reform programme of 1997/8. The initiative shows commitment to constitutionalism and respect for property rights and restoring the rule of law. The...

COVID-19 has hit SMEs in South Africa’s food sector hard. What can be done to help them

COVID-19 has further emphasised the need for a more diverse food system, in which SMEs play a key role COVID-19 has prompted widespread discussion of the resilience of food systems and how efficiency and competitiveness have been previously understood. Recent decades have seen the growth of increasingly complex food value chains. These are underpinned by just-in-time delivery systems, a growing share of food products sold through supermarkets, and...

Why the African free trade area could be the game-changer for the continent’s economies

African leaders have their work cut out to make the continental free trade area a success. Wikimedia CommonsMost economists see structural transformation as one of the main routes to Africa’s sustainable development. What it means is changing the share of agriculture, manufacturing and services in an economy. It is a central aim of the African Union’s Agenda 2063. With this aim in mind, economists and policymakers need to...

South Africa needs better food price controls to shield poor people from COVID-19 fallout

A woman walks past a market stall in Kliptown, Soweto. COVID-19 has wrought havoc on poor households in countries across the world. தென்னாப்பிரிக்காவில், more and more people are facing hunger resulting from mass job losses and small, poorly implemented supplementary cash grants. On top of this the pandemic has put in stark relief the country’s poorly understood food system, in which powerful firms operate with little...

Africa’s high density urban settlements: cut the red tape and slash the cost of housing

African urban dwellers pay 55% more in rentals than their counterparts in other cities in the world. The challenges of informal settlements have once again been thrown into the spotlight in the midst of the current pandemic. Research has shown that some of the most at-risk populations and therefore the potential hotspots of COVID-19 are in informal settlements where density is above the threshold needed for social distancing....

Why African countries are reluctant to take up COVID-19 debt relief

IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva and World Bank group president David Malpass have offered debt relief to developing countries A debt service relief package has been approved by some of the world’s biggest lenders for more than 25 African countries. The arrangement includes the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the G20, the African Development Bank, and all Paris Club creditors. The goal was to free up more...

The IMF’s $4bn loan for South Africa: the pros, cons and potential pitfalls

South Africa's finance minister Tito Mboweni says the IMF loan will limit the country's economic vulnerabilities which have been exacerbated by COVID-19. Gallo Images/Brenton GeachThe International Monetary Fund (சர்வதேச நாணய நிதியம்) has approved a R70 billion (US$4.3 billion) loan for South Africa to help the country manage the immediate consequences of the fallout from COVID-19. The Conversation Africa’s editor, Caroline Southey, asked Danny Bradlow to shed some light on what...

What drove Asia’s economic success stories, and what should Africa emulate?

East Asian countries have looked up to Japan as a model of success. The remarkable economic transformation of Asia in recent decades has attracted global attention. It has ignited scholarly and policy debates about the region’s development models and strategies. African policymakers have not been immune to the worldwide fascination with the “Asian miracle”. African leaders and officials have these past few years undertaken a constant stream of...
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