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Coimbra Group Winter School: Global Change and the COVID-19 Pandemic in Africa – Chances or Challenges?

07 January 2021

Coimbra Group Winter School

An initiative of the Development Cooperation Working Group of the Coimbra Group

Global Change and the COVID-19 Pandemic in Africa – Chances or Challenges?

Online four-week programme from 1 to 26 February 2021

Deadline for application: 20 January 2021

What are the economic, social and cultural effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in different African regions? During this winter school, 50 MA and PhD students at Coimbra Group and African universities will learn about impacts, challenges and responses related to Covid-19 and Africa thanks to a range of experts who are teaching and researching at Coimbra Group (CG) and African universities. Together, they will identify challenges and work collectively to formulate solution-based responses.

Application and further information about the programme are available here.


Since the global exchange of people is ultimately responsible for the intercontinental spread of the Covid19, the corona pandemic can be described as a disease of globalization. If you look at Africa in the midst of this crisis as the continent that benefits the least from globalization and is still an essential part of a global economic system due to its natural resources, there are a few special features.

Before the crisis, Africa was the breeding ground for many pandemic diseases such as HIV or Ebola, but with Covid-19, which came to the continent from European diplomats, business travelers and tourists, the direction of the infection chain is changing. Covid-19 is primarily a disease of mobility.

But precisely because of the experience with Ebola and other tropical infectious diseases, many African countries seem to be well prepared for the pandemic despite poorly equipped health systems. A Corona test was developed in Senegal while the rules of social distancing were activated in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the most affected countries in the world Ebola epidemic 2014-2016.

If one believes the epidemiological prognosis of some observers, the corona pandemic will not hit the African continent as much as Italy, the US or Brazil in terms of mortality rate. Even if the official infection numbers are (still) relatively low in comparison to the rest of the world, which may also be due to a lack of testing capacities, major socio-economic challenges are already beginning to appear: the weak economic systems are on the verge of collapse in many places. Due to the curfews, day laborers and business people in the informal sector cannot earn money for their daily livelihood. The payment of ‘western’ development aid is also expected to decrease in the next few years.

The following questions are derived from these observations:

  • What are the economic, social and cultural effects of the corona pandemic in the different African regions?
  • How will the corona pandemic change Africa’s position in the globalized world?
  • Is the COVID-19 pandemic a chance or challenge for Africa?

As part of the Development Cooperation Study Days, these questions will be discussed with experts and students from all Coimbra Group universities. The interdisciplinary online workshop aims to bring together scientific perspectives from the disciplines of Economics, Health management, Social science, Political science, Area studies, African studies, Philosophy and Postcolonial studies.

In a nutshell:

  • Interdisciplinary workshops with Master and PhD students from Africa and Europe
  • African and European experts from Economics, Health management, Social science, Area studies, History and Ecology
  • Regular online Group meetings
  • Keynote lecture
  • Final event with project presentations
  • 3 ECTS

Download the Winter School poster.