May 8, 2020


In this week’s installment of our weekly webinar series, Association Strong: Pandemic and Economic Recovery, Grace Nzou from Niusline Media in Kenya spoke about the need for associations to reinvent how they communicate with members, the broader private sector, government, and everyday citizens. With that in mind, this week’s newsletter highlights what African associations have been doing to lead and engage their communities throughout COVID-19.

Small and large businesses alike are facing an existential crisis. Supply chains have been disrupted, markets have evaporated, and workers still in lockdown are unable to fully participate in the production and distribution of goods. Associations are well-positioned to collect information about the challenges and opportunities that their members face and to provide assistance based on member needs. Association outreach may take the form of a simple call to check in with members and offer support, or a formal survey to collect periodic information on member activities.

During the pandemic, many businesses have been stepping up to the challenge by providing funds, resources, food and health supplies to assist their communities. Accurate reporting on these developments matters more than ever as COVID-19 continues to ravage communities. Associations must provide rapid updates on what their members are doing in order to enable their constituents to benefit from their actions, and to maintain a leadership role in a rapidly changing environment. Associations can share information on member activities with the media, government, and members through press releases, position papers, and social media.

Associations should also be communicating with their members and the broader community as they engage in advocacy efforts for policies that address when businesses can consider reopening, the process of how businesses will reopen, taxation rates, and other matters that impact how business will be done in the future. Throughout the webinar, Grace emphasized how associations must be proactive in order to “never be forgotten,” and described ways that association leaders can adjust their communication plans in order to meet this goal. We hope you will join us on May 13 to hear more from Grace on best practices for association communications.

Lars Benson, CIPE Africa Regional Director 
The Center for International Private Enterprise is an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a core institute of the National Endowment for Democracy


AFRICA CONTINENTAL FREE TRADE AREA — While acknowledging that the COVID-19 pandemic will likely impact the timeline of the roll-out of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) previously set to launch this July, AfCFTA secretary-general Wamkele Mene maintains that “our only tool for economic recovery on the African continent is to accelerate intra-Africa trade.” Additionally, while the digitalization of trade was already a strong priority for AfCFTA prior to the pandemic, Mene emphasizes that its importance is even more pronounced now. "From a customs point of view and for goods-in-transit,” he says, “it’s very important to establish trade facilitation digital platforms but we don’t have them yet at the pan-African level…and this crisis has underscored the need for us to accelerate that work.”

ETHIOPIA — Ethiopian Airlines is providing services for a humanitarian transportation hub created in a partnership between Ethiopia, the United Nations, and the World Health Organization to move supplies and aid workers across Africa to fight COVID-19. This turn to cargo and charter operations may help to recoup some of the losses the airline is facing with the reduction in passenger traffic caused by the pandemic.

NIGERIA — The Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines, and Agriculture (NACCIMA) has commended the Nigerian government for its provision of financial stimulus packages to small and medium-sized enterprises, and called on the authorities administering the funds to ensure easy and swift access for business owners. As Nigeria begins to relax some lockdown policies, NACCIMA is also cautioning Nigerians not to rush to cut back on isolation and distancing practices, so as not to lose major progress in containing the spread of COVID-19.


Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis, CIPE has been collecting examples of how our partners across Africa have been evolving in response to new challenges created by the crisis. The Niger Coalition of Business & Professional Associations (NICOBPA), which CIPE helped establish, is one coalition that has proactively responded in ways that support both its members and the community at large during the COVID-19 crisis. NICOBPA has strategically secured the supply chain of essential goods and services in Niger State, such as pharmaceuticals, food items, and related products, in order to limit the impact of the statewide lockdown.
NICOBPA was proactive in approaching national authorities at the commencement of the lockdown and obtaining exception permits on behalf of several member and non-member businesses to ensure continuous production and transportation of key goods. The coalition successfully arranged for “special market days” for NICOBPA members such as the Niger State Tailors Association (contracted by the government to mass produce face masks, which are now required in public spaces) and the Association of Fabrics and Accessories Suppliers (whose members provide materials for mask production). Because of the advocacy work that NICOBPA undertook for these organizations and others, many crucial businesses were able to stay open while also working to support relief efforts.
In addition to swiftly responding to the business hurdles that the crisis created, NICOBPA has been tackling the public health consequences of the pandemic as well. NICOBPA took active steps to ensure the safety and health of the public by setting up a monitoring committee to support the government’s stay-at-home directive. NICOBPA has also distributed donations of manufactured products to the appropriate COVID-19 relief authorities.
Throughout the process, the Niger State Commissioner of Commerce and Investment has commended NICOBPA for supporting government efforts to curtail the spread of COVID-19. The Commissioner highlighted NICOBPA’s formation of the monitoring committee and support of the business community in Niger State in his remarks. Because of NICOBPA’s reliable relief efforts, the government has urged the coalition to continue to partner with the government as the crisis evolves.


  • Edelman has released a COVID-19 Business Impact Tracker that shows how individual companies are being impacted by the pandemic across the globe. The tracker can be filtered by impact on business, employees, travel, and events.
  • Insight2Impact and Finmark Trust developed a tool which tracks how COVID-19 is affecting livelihoods across Africa using data on topics such as health and risk behaviors, food security, income, work and job security, personal safety concerns, and access to government and community support.
  • The World Bank has developed a brief entitled Do’s and Don’ts of Trade Policy in the Response to COVID-19, pulling from past crises to provide guidance on appropriate trade responses that governments can take to ameliorate the impact of the current crisis without undermining other responses.
  • The AfroChampions Initiative released an assessment on African governments’ commitment to and readiness for the start of trading under AfCFTA. The study, completed shortly before the COVID-19 outbreak, gauged commitment and implementation readiness to be below 50%. However, AfroChampions asserts that countries should still move forward with the original start date of the AfCFTA. AfroChampions maintains that African governments must focus on relaxing restrictions on the trade of goods essential to the fight against COVID-19 and permit the entry of critical and life-saving goods.



Wednesday, 5/13/20, 9AM EST | 2PM WAT | 4PM EAT

Join CIPE Africa on Wednesday, May 13th for a one-hour presentation from communications expert Grace Nzou on identifying useful applications for external business communications. Grace will highlight key business uses of applications in the marketplace and discuss appropriate applications and use cases for a range of audiences. RSVP by emailing or clicking the button below.
Register Here
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