UNDP partners with Chatham House on policy series for COVID-19 recovery in Africa

Posted November 18, 2021

Image: Chatham House/Yusuf Hassan

In September 2021, the UNDP Africa Regional Programme, in partnership with the Chatham House Africa Programme, launched a dialogue series on Policy for Recovery in Africa, which aims to bring together expert speakers and decision-makers to examine and exchange on key challenges, potential solutions and approaches for implementation.

As African countries confront the shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a need for multi-sector engagement on development, including from regional and global governments, international organizations, financial institutions, donors and the private sector. The series provides careful analysis and evidence-based policy solutions towards recovery and progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the African Union’s Agenda 2063.


Africa appeared more resilient to the immediate health impact of COVID-19 than many of the more developed parts of the world – in part attributed to youthful populations, lessons learned from Ebola outbreaks, already on-going community health programmes, as well as fast responses from national leadership. However, access to critical vaccines will likely mean that the continent lags well behind other regions in inoculation against COVID-19.

The economic impact of COVID-19 may hit Africa harder than any other recent global crisis. The IMF projects that the global economy will grow by 6 per cent in 2021, but the African economy by only 3.2 per cent. African governments do not have the same access to financial capital to kick start recovery, foreign investment is drying up, and domestic finances are urgently needed for providing basic education and health services.

Progress will depend on cooperation between a broad variety of stakeholders and will require new thinking on policy formation and engagement with different actors.

Unless these challenges are addressed, the economic impacts of COVID-19 will lead to significant social and political upheaval. The challenge of fulfilling the aspirations of increasingly globalized youthful populations will exacerbate tensions in places where competition for scarce resources already causes conflict, and could force some authoritarian regimes to reinforce repression to head off widespread dissent.

This UNDP-Chatham House series draws together key actors including governments, policy makers, international organizations, the international private sector, as well as local business representatives, academics and experts, the media, the diaspora and citizens.

Watch the explainer video.

EVENT 1 | Vaccine access and manufacturing | 30 September 2021

Keynote speaker: Rt. Hon. Dr. Michel Sidibé, African Union Special Envoy for the African Medicines Agency (AMA).

This event discussed the key issues confronting African governments for getting access to vaccines. Read the summary and watch the recording.

EVENT 2 | Regional integration and trade facilitation | 24 November 2021

Keynote speaker: HE Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General, African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat.

Panellists at this event exchanged perspectives on the African Continental Free Trade Area, including the priorities for implementation and how to ensure that Africa’s diverse economies and populations, particularly its youth and the most socio-economically marginalised, are able to benefit from it. Read the summary and watch the recording.

EVENT 3 | Capital markets and debt management | 29 November 2021

Keynote address: Dr Ernest Addison, Governor, Bank of Ghana.

At this event, panellists discussed multilateral and bi-lateral initiatives for debt cancellation, debt relief and debt restructure. The event reflected on the importance of reducing capital migration and considered what policymakers can do to address the unfavourable risk premium associated with the continent. Read the summary and watch the recording.

EVENT 4 | Partnerships for sustainable development | 1 December 2021

At this event, panellists identified the roles, responsibilities. and expectations of different stakeholders in working towards sustainable development, and the impediments to achieving Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Read the summary and watch the recording.

EVENT 5 | Private sector investment in fragile contexts | 9 December 2021

Discussions at this roundtable focused on if and how private sector investment can support stabilization, reduce fragility and build resilience in fragile contexts in Africa. 

EVENT 6 | Regional development planning and coordination | 15 December 2021

Keynote address: Ambassador Mamman Nuhu, Executive Secretary of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) and Head of Mission for the Multinational Joint Task Force (MJTF).

The economic impacts of COVID-19 have weakened the ability of many states to deliver social provisions and services including education, healthcare and security – peripheral areas, including border regions, have been particularly affected. Regional development planning and coordination will help to advance economic and social recovery, as well as strengthening resilience. Panellists discussed the challenges facing transnational development in areas affected by conflict and insecurity, as well as reflected on lessons learnt from across the continent on how cross-border development frameworks can be implemented. Read the summary and watch the recording.