Africa in Serious Crisis

Africa in Serious Crisis, by Aidan Hartely.

If the virus spares the young, Africa is better off than Europe. Our median age is less than 20; three quarters are under 35. Most ordinary folk are fit, slim, non-smoking and healthy. Few live beyond 60, since misrule has so impoverished many hospitals that they lack even aspirins.

The local joke in Kenya is that we have more parliamentarians (350) than ICU beds (130). ‘Underlying health issues’ affect mainly the tiny urban class of richer, often politically connected folk, who pick up westerners’ bad habits. In other words, the pandemic’s main victims might be ageing politicians and their hangers-on, who find themselves unable to fly their private jets to Europe for treatment — a cull of sugar-fed, obese oligarchs. …

As global supply chains collapse, it becomes horribly clear that out of 54 African states, only Zambia is a net food exporter. Many Africans routinely rely on food aid. For oil-dependent Nigeria’s nearly 200 million people, life is about to get tough.

‘Sub-Saharan countries with no exception that I can think of have gorged on borrowing and balance sheets are maxed out,’ according to Kenya’s most prominent economic analyst, Aly-Khan Satchu. ‘It’s biblical.’ Without restructuring, central banks will default, especially on their vast loans from China, which has built so much sub-standard, bribe-soaked belt and road infrastructure.

The recent mistreatment of black people in Guangzhou has horrified Africans, who know where the virus came from.

Naturally, Africa’s leaders have taken their begging bowls to the IMF and World Bank, asking for a mega-bailout. ‘This time hopefully those institutions will be more intelligent about how the money is spent, rather than just shovelling it out to leaders who all round trip it offshore,’ says Satchu.

hat-tip Stephen Neil