COVID-19 News

Tutu Fellows' COVID-19 responses and initiatives

The paradox of the African state

2019 Tutu Fellow Ronak Gopaldas has written a paper on the double-edged sword that COVID-19 presents to Africa. It is published in Enact, an organisation enhancing Africa's response to transnational organised crime. In the paper, he notes that the pandemic has required a big government response. This has significant implications for Africa, which has a record and history of weak governance. The title is: The paradox of the African state in a post-COVID world – problem or solution?


A 2006 Tutu Fellow, Wendy Burgers, is leading research into reinfection of patients by COVID-19.  She had noticed that globally, a handful of patients had reportedly been reinfected with COVID. She thought it was important to discover and understand how the immune system responds to the virus and whether it provides previously infected patients with a level of protection, should they be re-exposed to the virus. Wendy is a viral immunologist and Associate Professor in the Division of Medical Virology in the Department of Pathology in University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Faculty of Health Sciences. Wendy and her team are regularly sampling of a group of healthcare workers who have a high risk of exposure to the virus who had been infected with COVID-19. It also used a group of their peers who had not.


The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science magazine has profiled 2019 Tutu Fellow, Prof Edwine Barasa, and his role in managing the COVID-19 pandemic in Kenya. He is the director of the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, a long-standing collaboration between Kenya and the United Kingdom, in Nairobi, Kenya, as well as being a Professor of Health Economics at the University of Oxford.  Over the course of the pandemic, Edwine has worked with epidemiologists and advised Kenya’s Ministry of Health on how to allocate its limited resources.


2013 Tutu Fellow Catherine Constantinides offers her experience with COVID-19 as a cautionary tale. She was young, healthy, and with no comorbidities, and when she caught the virus in July it almost killed her. She describes her difficult recovery as a nightmare. She shares her experience in the hope that people will take the necessary precautions against spreading or catching the disease.


2009 Tutu Fellow James Mwangi has penned a thought piece on insights and lessons that can be gained from the COVID-19 pandemic. James, the Executive Director of the Dalberg Group, and a Partner with Dalberg Advisors, cautions that while “COVID-19 is the defining socio-economic and geo-political event of our lives to date – it may not be the last major disruption.”  Existential issues such as climate change can be informed by lessons from the pandemic.


The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the world and has also impacted AFLI. Due to the risk to participants as well as the logistical impact on travel and quarantines, the AFLI COVID-19 Board Subcommittee has decided to postpone the Class of 2020 to 2021. AFLI will also not open the nomination process in October 2020 for 2021, and will continue to monitor the pandemic.

Silver Lining

2019 Tutu Fellow Ronak Golpaldas examines the opportunities the global pandemic has presented the African continent in an article for African Business. He goes on to unpack four areas that present the greatest opportunities, namely, in healthcare, public-private collaboration, economic diversification; and regional cooperation.


2008 Tutu Fellow Eunice Ajambo has drafted a United Nations policy brief titled COVID-19: An Emerging Development Challenge, but opportunity for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Namibia. The policy brief examines economic transformation in the context of COVID-19 and analyses how Namibia is currently fairing.


2006 Tutu Fellow Aidan Eyakuze has raised serious concerns that arise around Tanzania’s strategic approach to the COVID-19 pandemic. Aidan writes that Tanzanians have been allowed to continue moving around and trade with only minimal restrictions like wearing a mask in public - the 'herd immunity' approach. While this is risky in itself, it is being pursued in almost total data darkness as a deliberate strategy by President Magufuli.


2018 Tutu Fellow Adebola Williams, the Group CEO of Red Africa was interviewed along with 2015 Tutu Fellow, Wiebe Boer, in a segment by Nigeria Info FM. The interview was also broadcast live on Facebook and a video of the interview is available on that social media platform. In the piece, titled #Covid19Heroes,  they discussed how to sustain the fight against COVID-19 in Nigeria.


2014 Tutu Fellow Sello Hatang has written an Op Ed in The Daily Maverick in which he asks whether South Africa will take the opportunity after emerging from the pandemic to prioritise the most vulnerable of society.  The CEO of the Nelson Mandela Foundation says COVID-19 has exposed resilient clefts in society that show that 'black lives don't matter' and which will need to be accounted for in the reconstruction of the political economy post-pandemic.

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Re'ayit Misr emergency ICU field hospital has been set up by Tutu Fellow Ahmed Zahran’s company, KarmSolar, to aid Egypt’s COVID-19 response.  He pulled together a coalition of experts from KarmSolar and it's partners and designed a functional, modular solution for an emergency ICU field hospital. The plans for the hospital have also been made available for free download.

COVID 19 directory website

2018 Tutu Fellow Adebola Williams has launched the Beating Corona website. This comprehensive and accessible directory website details information on what organizations, brands, groups, corporations, and individuals are doing to assist in the fight against Covid-19 in Nigeria.


2018 Tutu Fellow Mohammed El Dahshan has written an analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on the Egyptian economy, sector by sector, that has been published in the latest issue of The Africa Report.  In the piece, he also provides recommendations to the state on balancing the short- and long-term response to the economic impact of the pandemic.

PPE donations

A group of Ghanaian Tutu Fellows banded together to collect and donate personal protective equipment (PPEs) to healthcare workers in Ghana in May 2020 to help them stay safe as they treat patients who may have COVID-19. The group comprised 2019 Tutu Fellow Marcia Ashong; 2014 Tutu Fellow Isaac Fokuo; and 2015 Tutu Fellow Mawuli Dake.

Coronavirus Economic Crash

Olugbenga Adesida, an AFLI Director and a 2018 Tutu Fellow, Geci Karuri-Sebina, have written a powerful post in which they call for using COVID-19 as an opportunity to shift the global economic paradigm, which is unsustainable. The times are urgent, they say, and the needs globally mutual. It is time to break out of the illusion of the existing box.