"This paper explores the extent of variation in African countries' responses to the COVID-19 [coronavirus disease 2019] pandemic, assessing the relative success of different strategies in containing the spread of disease as well as the costs containment strategies have entailed. I begin by examining the range of responses taken by different African governments, looking at the consequences for population mobility and spread of infection during the first seven months of the pandemic (March-September 2020). Using anonymized mobile phone data, I show that mobility reductions were significantly greater in countries where the government enacted more stringent measures. Statistical regression analysis indicates that such mobility reductions are significantly and negatively associated with COVID-19 growth rates two weeks later. However, the success of lockdown policies in containing the spread of disease came at a significant cost in many countries, including severe economic contraction, disruptions to essential services, and curtailing of human rights. That said, such costs do not appear to be a necessary result of enacting stringent measures. Cross-country analysis reveals a number of cases where governments acted swiftly and seriously to contain the spread of disease but did not suffer major economic or governance consequences. Highlighting the experiences of such countries is important for drawing lessons about best practices for continued management of COVID-19 and future outbreaks."
Users Working Paper, Series 2021:40
2021 University of Gothenburg, V-Dem Institute
Varieties of Democracy: https://www.v-dem.net/