One year of COVID-19: A data story to illustrate how African lives have changed during the pandemic


By Kasi Insight Staff

March 12, 2021--- 36,424 respondents in over 70 surveys capture the ways Africans have adjusted to living with the virus.

This week marks one year since the WHO declared COVID-19, a novel coronavirus and a global pandemic. In the span of a year, the virus has disrupted the world and Africa, changed consumer habits, and remade entire sectors.

Since February 2020, Kasi Insight has tracked the impact of COVID-19 on Africans by fielding more than 70 surveys, gathering over 1 million responses on topics related to economic conditions, business, health, and finances.

Our year in review curates the data that has defined the ways the pandemic has altered African’s way of life in a very unique way and their views of their world.


Back in March, consumer sentiment dropped from +9 to -28 between January and April, the largest drop in sentiment ever recorded since we started tracking consumer confidence in 2016. Fast forward today, sentiment has recovered and is back close to pre-COVID-19. In aggregate, the recovery took the shape of a V but the country-specific dynamics are very different.

By April 2020, 81% of respondents in Kenya had changed their lifestyle and daily routine because of the coronavirus. 10 months later, a majority of respondents in Kenya (63%) are still seeing their daily routine being disrupted by the pandemic.

The viral nature and global scope of the pandemic meant that information became critical to people. When it came to what media Africans considered to be reliable, 40% of respondents in Ethiopia said that TV was the most reliable source of information, followed by the Internet.


COVID-19 resulted in massive category shifts with new categories popping up under the essentials. As early as April, consumers in Africa were rushing to stockpile personal hygiene (+34), cleaning products (+25) in line with the global trend. On the other side, demand for Beauty products (-19), entertainment (-16) dropped significantly. In Nigeria, momentum for cleaning products (+9) remains strong in November while personal hygiene has dropped (-1)


Our category momentum captured a monthly shift in purchase intention for specific categories during the pandemic. The index is computed by taking the % of people purchasing more minus % of people purchasing less. In Ivory Coast, demand for alcoholic beverages remained strong back in April 2020 at +65 in the middle of the pandemic and doubled by November 2020 to reach +132.

Financial products (Tanzania)

Back in April 2020, demand for financial products also shifted as a result of the pandemic, in Tanzania, loan momentum dropped to -18 while mobile money rose to +93. Fast forward to November 2020, demand for loans is now up +140 while demand for mobile money dropped to +31.


In August 2020, just 3 in 10 respondents in 7 countries we track said they will take the vaccine as soon as it is available. The percentage dropped to 24% in October before rebounding to 29% in December 2020. In Ghana, only 4% of respondents in September 2020 said they will take the vaccine

Reliable information as a preventive cure for COVID (Tanzania)

Back in March 2020, 40% of respondents in Tanzania said they were likely to be or to know someone who will be infected, that percentage has since dropped to 2% in November 2020. Tanzania leadership has discarded the pandemic and didn’t follow any restrictions imposed by other countries or advice by the WHO. Fast forward now, the country is witnessing a rise in cases and there are reports that the president is being treated with COVID in a Kenyan hospital.

Mental health challenges

Sadly the pandemic has also increased various kinds of abuses. In fact, the majority of respondents in South Africa cite gender-based violence, child abuse, protests, and an increase in government corruption as issues they have witnessed over the past 6 months.


Back in February 2020, 7 in 10 respondents in South Africa were concerned with the COVID-19, and rightly so, South Africa continues to lead the continent in terms of cases and deaths. The government has been very active in managing the pandemic and in December 2020, only 5 out 10 respondents are concerned with COVID-19.

“The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) if not handled well, is set to fail. The ambitious 55-nation pact just like the African Union (AU), has the same script, but with a different cast. Technical barriers to trade, such as corruption and cumbersome custom systems must be removed,” said Johannesburg-based international trade expert, Tumelo Mabuza.

Africans were hit financially first by COVID-19 as travel bans, supply chain disruptions and restrictions meant that people and businesses couldn’t operate. Back in 7 in 10 respondents in Cameroon cited “money, losing job and economy downturn” as their biggest worries from the pandemic. Sadly that number has remained unchanged as of December 2020.


The Black Lives Matter Survey by KASI Insights also reveals that Africans saw in shock the video of the killing of George Floyd, in fact, 2 in 5 respondents said they were completely shocked and outraged by the murder of George Floyd.

Ghana, Ivory Coast, and Tanzania held elections in 2020 during the pandemic. What does that mean for consumer sentiment and thus, consumption? In our white paper released in October 2020, we explore the behavior of the Kasi CCI during election years. We examine the trends of the CCI in previous elections with a special focus on Ghana, a historically peaceful country during elections, and Kenya, which has a history of election-related violence.

Contact our team today to explore how our consumer intelligence and economic intelligence can empower your decision-making process. Win with confidence with Kasi insights

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