As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on into its second year, it continues to inflict unprecedented personal, societal and economic disruption around the world. Although the pandemic initially hit sub-Saharan Africa less severely than other areas, in the first few months of 2021, just as the spread of COVID-19 appeared to be slowing, a second wave of the virus fueled by more highly transmittable variants led to a resurgence of the pandemic. This resurgence has forced the implementation of renewed government restrictions and lockdowns in some nations, amplifying the risk of deep economic scarring for many years to come.

The economic slowdown caused by the pandemic has disproportionally impacted the most marginalized countries and individuals of the world. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) the economic losses are expected to be much higher in emerging markets than in advanced economies. On an individual level, the virus has deepened inequality across sub-Saharan Africa with young and low-skilled workers, women and refugees bearing the brunt of the downturn.

Looking ahead, the opportunity to interrupt virus transmissions and initiate social and economic recovery in sub-Saharan Africa largely hinges on the availability and distribution of vaccines. The pandemic, however, has also exposed global inequalities in health care. At this point there are simply not enough doses available to inoculate entire African nations in the near term. The spread of false information and conspiracy theories has also led to an increase in vaccine hesitancy, further complicating vaccination efforts.

After living with the pandemic for more than a year, many questions and uncertainties remain. As a follow up to GeoPoll’s 2020 reports on the impact of COVID-19 in sub-Saharan Africa, GeoPoll conducted a survey to assess the ongoing effects of the pandemic on respondents’ finances, spending, and health, their thoughts and concerns about the vaccine, and their hopes for the future. This report details the results from that survey.

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The study was conducted in March 2021 in Côte D’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, and South Africa. The main topics covered include:

  • Changes to consumer finances, spending, and mobile money usage
  • Perceptions about the government response to the virus and the trustworthiness of information available
  • Anticipation about the availability and willingness to take the vaccine
  • Adherence to public health measures and changes to mental and physical health

Findings from this study illustrate the ongoing disruption of COVID-19 in sub-Saharan Africa. Incomes and spending continue to fall since our study in November 2020, while prices have risen. The percentage likely to take the vaccine if it was available has decreased since November, as has optimism about when that might be. Despite these hardships, several positive trends surfaced in this study, including improvements in emotional and physical health.

Click below to download GeoPoll’s full written report, or view data in the interactive dashboard.

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Data: Financial Impact, Government Response, Likelihood to Take the Vaccine, and more.

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