Kenyan Hollywood star Lupita Nyong’o was part of a cast of elite artistes who came together last Saturday to perform in a concert dubbed Together At Home, which raised $128 million (Sh13.6 billion) for coronavirus response efforts.
The eight- hour show, organised by advocacy group Global Citizen, was broadcast across the world and featured other African celebrities Sho Madjozi, Burna Boy, Cassper Nyovest and Black Coffee as well as America’s Lady Gaga, Stevie Wonder and the Rolling Stones.
Ms Nyong’o, an Academy Award winner, pleaded for support to developing countries as the world fights the scourge that has affected over 2.6 million and killed more than 184,000 at the time of reporting, according to data from America’s John Hopkins University. Fourteen of the deaths were reported in Kenya.
“We must remain vigilant and make sure that all communities in Africa and around the world have access to life-saving testing, protective supplies and treatment,” she said.
Global Citizen announced that the $127.9 million (Sh13.6 billion) would provide $55.1 million (Sh5.89 billion) to the Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund and $72.8 million (Sh7.78 billion) to local and regional responders.
Donations to the fund will also support the vaccine development alliance Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and UNICEF.
The WHO’s Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan in February announced an initial resource requirement of $675 million (Sh72 billion) to fight the pandemic. So far, the agency has received $377.1 million (Sh40.3 billion) and a further $240.1 million (Sh25.7 billion) in pledges.
Kuwait, with $60million, is the single largest contributor to the fund, followed by Japan at $47.5 million (Sh5 billion) and the European Commission at $33.8 million (Sh3.6 billion), according to WHO’s latest data dated April 21.
No African country or agency has, so far, responded to WHO’s appeal even as the organisation works with governments across the continent to boost surveillance, testing, isolation, contact tracing, infection prevention and control, together with risk communication and community engagement.
The UN health agency reported that Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Nigeria have expanded national testing to multiple labs, allowing for decentralised and more efficient system.
Africa remains at a risk of grave consequences as a result of the disease, including economic and social devastation. In Kenya, the travel, hospitality and floriculture industries were first to feel the impact of the pandemic as hotels shut down with some forced to dismiss their workers.
The cancellation of oversea orders and travel restrictions hit the country’s flower farms hard leading to an estimated 40 percent decline in sales forcing firms to turn on their 150,000 workforce to stem outright losses.
The country’s flower farms have shed more than 30,000 casual workers with over 40,000 permanent staff relieved as industry players warn that head count could drop to 20,000 in coming weeks.
“Only 50 percent of our nationwide workforce is currently working with the percentage expected to plummet to 25 percent in the coming two to three weeks,” said Kenya Flower Council chief executive, Clement Tulezi.
Meanwhile, the national carrier, Kenya Airways, has been left to pursue a national bailout after the grounding of its aircraft due to the ban on international flights sparked by the coronavirus pandemic.
The airline stopped international flights after a State order on March 22 to cancel all cross-border passenger flights. The order effectively cut off Kenya Airways’ flow of new revenues at a time when it had no cash reserves.