This is the second eNsight in a series where I show that data is the new gold to South Africa.
You can find the first eNsight in the series here:
In this eNsight, I focus on COVID-19 vaccinations, to further drive the point home about how well-placed Mzansi is in the world when it comes to availability of rich, reliable data that can be used for a lot of worthwhile purposes across the board.
So, let’s go.
Table of Contents
Inspiration for this second eNsight in the series
As those of us who follow the trending global news know by now, the latest COVId-19 variant called Omicron has been the latest trending topic.
What caught my attention though, while watching a programme called Inside Story on Aljazeera on the morning of the 28th of November 2021, is how the mainstream media can contribute directly to the misinformation pandemic.
My observation inspired this eNsight.
Bathong, Africa is not one country!
Africans will have to keep making this point over and over again to the world at large.
While all of us who come from Africa share an umbilical cord, the 54 nations making up the continent are different in many other ways.
COVID-19 provides a perfect example
I follow news reports on the COVID-19 pandemic closely, and I have not once read or heard of reporting of the various countries in the Americas, or even Northern America (the US and Canada), lumped together.
Then why is it that when the media report on COVID-19 stats for African countries, the tendency is to treat the continent as one country?
At the moment, COVID-19’s vaccination rate in Africa – based on full vaccinations as a percentage of total population – stands at 8.8% as at 24 December 2021.
Buried in this stat, is South Africa’s full vaccination rate of 26.3%!
Yes, I know Mzansi’s full vaccination rate is still lower than the global average of 48.2%, but let me expand on this for richer context.
A look at the 10 leading African countries by total vaccinations paints a clearer picture.
As Graph 3 shows, 3 African countries are above the World total vaccination average, and all the top 10 are above the continental average.
The following 5 countries in the top 10 in Graph 3 have a combined population of just over 5 million people – Seychelles, Mauritius, Cape Verde, Comoros and Botswana; giving them the “unfair” vaccination rate advantage over countries with large populations, such as South Africa with 60 million people.
3 of the top 10 African countries are from North Africa – Morocco, Tunisia, and remarkably Egypt – the third most populous African country with 102 million people.
What about vaccination rates of Africa's top 10 nations?
Let the numbers do the talking.
South Africa is the fifth largest African nation, in case you did not know (or forgot) that.
Of the top 10 largest African nations,
- South Africa tops with the highest total vaccination rate,
- only 2 are in the top 10 with highest total vaccination rates on the continent – South Africa and Egypt, and
- only 4 are over the average total vaccination rate for the continent, including the 2 above, and Uganda and Algeria.
And yes, as at today – the 26th of December 2021 – South Africa’s vaccination data is the most updated in the top 10 most populous African nations table above.
Bringing it closer to my base
South Africa has received numerous commendations in the last 2 years for work done by government in putting in place an effective process to keep COVDI-19 in check, for being transparent with COVID-19 data, and lately for the early detection of the Omicron variant and transparent reporting to W.H.O.
The country gives free access to detailed, most updated analysis of COVID-19 infections, hospitalisations, recoveries, deaths and vaccinations on the National Department of Health’s dedicated Website.
Data is the new gold to South Africa
Mzansi is part of Africa, and I say that with pride.
However, there is nothing wrong in pointing out how well this country has done with respect to COVID-19.
There is no doubt in my mind that data has enabled People of the South to stand head above shoulders in her management of the pandemic.
The tweet below says it all.
It's getting so bad that even Ramaphosa sounds like an epidemiological genius compared to Biden or Trudeau. https://t.co/idg6CBfYdf— Paul Fromm (@FrommPaul) December 23, 2021
South Africa managed to get through its Omicron peak without introducing new restrictions – but will other countries follow suit?
So, let it be known that when it comes to collecting and harnessing the data related to COVID-19, South Africa is flying the continental flag.
Caution to the People of the South
We must be careful what we ask for as a nation.
The calls by South Africans, some of them fairly eminent members of society, on government to stop being transparent with its COVID-19 stats going forward, are short sighted.
What am I on about?
Mzansi has been credited as the first nation to broke the news to the world about the discovery of this latest COVID-19 variant called Omicron.
And what happened in response?
Some of the developed countries banned flights to and from our country, implying that People of the South are the source of the variant, which creatied panic and caused untold damage to our tourism sector just at the dawn of our high season.
The trouble with such a call?
This is tantamount to saying to a child: go ahead and lie, but only when it is appropriate.
This will not end here, and it is bound to come back and bite us as a nation.
For better or for worse
Let us encourage President Cyril Ramaphosa and his government to tell the truth, all the time, including about COVDI-19 stats, even when it is not convenient, or downright bad for the economic prospects of the country.
And the upside for us as a nation?
This way, we will entrench the culture of accountability on the part of political office bearers, and by extension all people tasks with looking after the interests of the nation, and ultimately all of us in any role of responsibility – big or small.
Am I dreaming?
But one thing is for sure, as data gains the status of being the new gold for South Africa, there will be nowhere to hide for those with nefarious intentions.