Namibia Logistics Association

2020/11 Coronavirus and the World Economy

The coronavirus has arrived in the most remote place of the World and 213 countries and territories are affected. Namibia has now 18 cases and South Africa 19 137. China reported only one death. Namibia emerged with stage 2 out of the lockdown on 5 May as expected. The latest cases and deaths are the following:

Table 1: Coronavirus cases – 27 January – 21 May

Region/CountryCases27 JanCases27 FebCases26 MarCases30 AprCases14 MayCases21 May
China4 58178 49981 28582 86282 92982 967
Europe556246 3271 219 2781 392 4551 451 954
Africa  1 00536 70370 55894 971
North America 7489 4781 116 1691 502 6261 675 460
Rest of the World2 49553 322766 5721 381 5551 818 402
Total4 58182 183471 4173 221 5844 430 1235 123 754


From the middle of March the epicentre of the coronavirus has shifted from China to Europe, the US and then to the rest of the World with 35.5% of all reported cases. The US reported 1 595 318 cases and 95 021 deaths. Only 1.8% of the reported cases and 0.9% of the deaths are on the African continent; however one should keep in mind that testing is not done as expected. 

Table 2: Coronavirus deaths – 27 January – 21 May

Region/CountryDeaths27 JanDeaths27 FebDeaths26 MarDeaths30 AprDeaths/14 May Deaths/21 May
China1062 7473 2874 6334 6334 634
Europe1414 143131 603154 344162 336
Africa  281 5572 4843 019
North America[1] 1 33464 66590 499101 052
Rest of the World432 50325 80546 22059 762
Total1062 80421 295228 263298 180330 803


[1] North America is Canada and the US

If the current trend continues the total number of deaths will be around 363 000 in a weeks’ time. The USA, UK, Spain, Italy, France and Belgium have today 68.7% of the number of deaths reported in the whole World. 

Africa was out of limelight in the beginning and Egypt reported the first cases. Slowly the coronavirus pandemic is reaching the African continent and all countries reported 94 971  cases and 3 019 deaths. There are only 23 659 cases reported in the SADC region and 483 deaths.

Table 3: Coronavirus cases and deaths in the SADC region – 2 Apr – 21 May 2020

SADC countryCases2 AprCases30 AprCases14 MayCases21 MayDeaths2 AprDeaths30 AprDeaths14 MayDeaths21 May
South Africa1 3535 35012 07419 1375103219369
DRC1094911 1691 8359305061
Total1 7917 20015 22923 65923173319483


Graph one below illustrate that the peak has been reached and we are in a declining trend for 8 weeks already. 

Graph 1: Weekly change of the World’s coronavirus cases and deaths

The graph above depicts the weekly change since beginning of March 2020 in the whole World of reported cases and deaths. The situation is improving by the week. 

Graph 2: COVID 19 cases and deaths in Africa and the rest of the world

Source: Compiled from Worldometers data

From the data which is available one can see that a third wave is not on the way as the WHO predicted five weeks ago. The number of cases has risen by 1.4%, but this mainly due to the rise of number of cases in Russia and Brazil. 

The World economy is in a severe recession as the MSCI World Index (below) is signalling. The MSCI World Index consists of the stock exchange performance of 28 countries. 

Graph 3: MSCI World Index

The MSCI index was at 2401 on 22 February 2020 and closed on Wednesday at 1998, a fall of 14.9%. The latest improvement in stock exchanges is contrary to the normal investment logic. It seems to be that the Dow discounted already the world recession and low profitability of many companies and stocks are back in favour due to the low interest policy of central banks. 

Table 4: Selected international commodity prices

Winners for Namibia  
Energy: Brent oil60.34%-45.04%

 Source: Trading economics. 21 May 2020 

The commodity prices relevant to Namibia reached a turning point five weeks ago and with the weakening exchange rate one can probably see an increase in exports from May onwards. The N$ is currently trading 17.67 to the US Dollar and 19.31 to the Euro. 

On the home front the Government gazetted a directive that businesses should not dismiss employees or reduce their salaries from 28 March until the 2nd of June. The Namibian Employers Federation took Government to court arguing that under the declared State of Emergency they (business) do still have rights under the constitution and parts of the Labour Act cannot be set aside willy nilly. Trade Unions support Government and they see the actions by NEF as not ‘supportive of tripartite cooperation’ and business should ‘be sensitive towards the plight of the workers’. Policymakers often do not understand that any business will not just reduce wages or dismiss employees just for fun, any business owner and director has also a fiduciary duty towards the company under the Companies Act. The parties will be heard on next week and even if NEF will win the case, the level of trust has reached a low. Government knows that without the private sector economic recovery will be an illusion due to limits in fiscal space and thus the current political message is difficult to comprehend and might even backfire in coming months.   

Compiled by: Rainer Ritter           

21 May 2020