Rwanda an impressive case study in Africa
North Korea finally reported the first case of COVID-19 on May 8, 2022, happening much later at a time Kenya has already shown signs of the sixth wave of COVID-19 since its first case was reported in March 2020.
Mauritius, Madagascar, and Nigeria need to be extra cautious with their reducing or stagnating metrics on the population-normalised daily average COVID-19 tests, as the analysis conducted on the normalised rates from 2020 to 2022 has demonstrated.
The global record of COVID-19 cases has risen from just a million by April 2020 to more than 544 million by June 18, 2022. The global case fatality rate has also since reduced from more than 2% to 1.2% with a rise in recovery rate from about 80% to 95.4%. North Korea was a latecomer in the COVID-19 experience, reporting the first case on May 8, 2022, long after China reported the first case in December 2019.
In Africa over the same period, the total reported cases has risen from less than 500 to more than 12 million by June 18, 2022. The case fatality rate has improved to 2.1% with a recovery rate of 93.5%. Testing efficacy is a critical metric in disaster governance, hence the management of pandemics and the actionable intelligence for coming up with de-risking mechanisms and innovations. A look into the trend of COVID-19 testing and vaccination rates across the globe reveals key insights into the wide-varying performance metrics of nations.
Sixth Wave in Kenya and Comparative Metrics
Kenya’s case fatality rate was 1.7% by June 18, 2022, a metric that has been steady for more than a year as the recovery rate improved to 97.3% by the same date. With a cumulative total of 329,605 cases reported as of June 20, 2022, Kenya has already shown signs of the sixth wave of the pandemic, more than two years after it reported the first case, in March 2020. The Ministry of Health has made a swift move to reinstate the wearing of masks in response to the new wave – confirming the earlier statement in this series on COVID research updates that learning to dance with the wave of the wily pandemic is the ultimate coping strategy.
With only 1.1% case fatality rate by June 18, 2022, Rwanda was still below Kenya and Africa’s average on the case fatality metric. The full vaccination rate in Rwanda was already an impressive 64% – almost at par with Israel, at a time Kenya (17%) and many other African countries were still at 20% and below on the full vaccination rates.
Rwanda: Stretching the Web of COVID-19 Metrics
A radar plot of the performance of thirty selected countries over the period between July 2020 and June 2022 on the population-and-time-normalised metric of COVID-19 tests shows that European countries have mostly been leading on COVID-19 tests as African countries trail. Nevertheless, Rwanda has defied this generalisation of Africa and remained an interesting outlier. What has Rwanda done differently?
Spain, the UK, Italy, France, Turkey, and Israel have been exemplary in expanding their COVID-19 testing metrics as shown in the radar plot. The plot has adopted population-normalised daily average COVID-19 tests. The right side of the plot shows the advancing scores in terms of tests per million people per day. On the left side, which African representatives occupy, most of the scores have either been stagnating (e.g., Nigeria, Madagascar) or receding (e.g., Mauritius) over the study period. The rates of full vaccination (%) replicate a similar pattern. It is Rwanda that can retell the success story of widening the web seen on the right side of the plot. Good governance and effective deployment of technology are key factors working in favour of Rwanda.
Reflections on Disaster Governance
Global disasters test the robustness of existing structures and systems. Such has been the case of COVID-19. Rwanda’s exemplary performance on the COVID-19 management parameters adds to the other firsts it has scored, notably institutional reforms, transport sector management, environmental management, technology adoption in logistics, among others.
Surprisingly, Rwandais still classified among the Least Developed Countries (LDCs). It is also a small and landlocked country. By embracing good governance and technology, Rwanda presents compelling lessons as a suitable case study for other African countries on how to succeed despite, if not due to, the common and shared bottlenecks and constraints that stifle development outcomes. East Africa should be an immediate beneficiary of the lessons.
In terms of policy implications for disaster governance, climate change comes to the fore. Like COVID-19, climate change does not spare African countries as it leaves havoc in its wake. This manifest charm of Rwanda is a ready example to emulate in disaster governance, innovations and adaptive coping strategies against climate change being a focal area to address.
As the 27th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 27) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is scheduled to take place in Africa later this year, it should be exciting to see what African countries will display as demonstrated cases of disaster governance. Rwanda has just set the record, but the fact that records are set to be broken should be a source of motivation for other African states to shine in similar ways.
By Nashon Adero
Lecturer and Policy Analyst