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Main Events of CG Winter School on Global Change and the Covid-19 Pandemic in Africa

27 January 2021

We are happy to announce that the Coimbra Group Virtual Winter School Global Change and the COVID-19 Pandemic in Africa – Chances or Challenges?” will start on 1 February 2021.

This four-week online programme has been developed by the members of the Coimbra Group Development Cooperation Working Group, under the overall coordination of the University of Würzburg. 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 number 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.

Prof. Dr. John Owusu Gyapong, Vice Chancellor at the University of Health and Allied Sciences in Accra (Ghana) will give a keynote speech on the recent epidemiological situation in West Africa.

Winter School Programme: Main Events



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.

Coimbra Group Virtual Winter School Poster