How has COVID-19 Affected the Job Market in Africa?

Posted by ketki singh on May 11th, 2021

If one is to go by the survey conducted by the social science researchers from 5 South African universities, as many as three million South African citizens have lost their jobs owing to the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent measures taken e.g. lockdown, restrictions etc.! Women are said to be the most affected.  Jayesh Saini, Nairobi resident and a social science student himself, has confirmed the fact. Going further, he stated that the story was more or less same in the entire African region. While the ones who managed to continue with their jobs, 1.5 million amongst them did not receive any income! Now, this tells the story.

  • Precise causes for this massive job loss

  • Lockdowns and restrictions:

A primary cause.

As in case of rest of the nations in the world, restrictions were also imposed in the whole of Africa. Africa and in particular South Africa happened to be one of the first countries around the globe, to impose a lockdown. Initially, there was a ban on everything including cigarette sales to even dog walking. It was almost the same in rest of the African countries like Kenya as well. This is what Jayesh Saini, Kenya native told us. 

The lockdowns imposed here were said to be amongst the strictest ones around the world. It was obvious that the restrictions were put in so as to curb the spread of the virus. However, this resulted into majority businesses being shut for five weeks post 27th March. As a result, the economy fell at an unprecedented level. Now, business closures for a prolonged duration got to result into job losses. That’s exactly what happened.

  • Fall in the job listings

Across Africa, there has been a fall in the number of job listings on the various career websites due to the pandemic situation. This added to the already prevalent job loss scenario, resulted into a rise in the number of unemployed individuals. 

  • A rise in the lay offs

A number of businesses/companies are said to have laid off several employees due to the impact of the disease. Reasons being varied like loss of business, inability to pay salaries of the employees due to a drop in the revenues/profits, partial shutdown of the business, a fall in the demand of services or products etc.  

  • Travel bans

Traveling bans has been one more reason for job losses. Especially, if we consider the aviation and the tourism industry. According to Jayesh Saini, in case of African countries like Kenya, the major share of the economy comes from the tourism sector. This being a large and prominent industry in the whole of Africa, a major chunk of individuals are associated with the aviation, tourism and related sectors. However, with travel bans imposed in light of COVID-19, it has resulted into job loss for a huge number of employees working in these sectors. Although the tourism sector has been the most impacted one owing to travel bans, rest of the sectors have also been affected and resulted into job losses.   

These are based on the information received from Jayesh Saini News and similar other reliable sources from Kenya, Africa. 

  • Has the situation changed?

The situation appears to be improving slowly. In the month of October last year, there was a rise in the level of employment in Africa, particularly South Africa, post the huge number of job losses that occurred in April 2020 and the succeeding months. According to Jayesh Saini Clinix, the COVID situation in Africa is improving to a large extent. So, the rise in the number of jobs can be attributed to this. 

Near about 2.1 million additional jobs have been recorded in the period from June to October 2020.  The employment levels in the month of October nearly matched to those in February i.e. prior to the pandemic.    

Below listed are the sectors that have performed better in October last year in terms of the job availability, as compared to their performance in February 2020,

  • Manufacturing 

  • Agriculture

  • Utilities

  • Trade and 

  • Communications service providers (CSPs) 

Amongst these, the trade, manufacturing and agriculture sectors have bounced back to levels that are beyond the ones that were there, before the pandemic struck. 

On the other hand, the underperforming sectors listed were,

  • Mining

  • Construction

  • Insurance, finance and real estate

Countries across Africa are harnessing the power of various digital technologies. They are making investments that will define the future of Africa’s workforce. With the youth of Africa taking innovation to the lengths and breadths of the continent, it is expected that this would result into increased job opportunities. However, as per Jayesh Saini, Nairobi based source feels that the support of the private sector and progressive governments would be required for the same.   

So, one can see from this that the job market was indeed affected and there was a rise in the number of job losses in Africa, in the initial phase of the COVID pandemic. However, from what can be seen, and as per Jayesh Saini, Nairobi, things have slowly started to improve and fall in place. Now that’s a good thing to happen.  


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ketki singh

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ketki singh
Joined: May 11th, 2021
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