Many African countries are dependent on food and pharmaceutical imports. Some also rely on overseas remittances and tourism for foreign exchange earnings. This means more hardship is yet to come.

Mauritius has not been spared from COVID-19. The country has been under national confinement since 20 March, a curfew since 24 March. As it is a globally interdependent economy, the impact on the country has been unparalleled. The first estimates point to a GDP contraction of 3% to 6% in 2020. The crisis is expected to spread well into 2021. Government has committed close to Rs.12 billion (US$300 million) worth of measures in support of businesses and workers. A further fiscal stimulus will be necessary to weather the storm.

But Mauritius heads into the epidemic on a stronger footing than many sub-Saharan Africa countries. The country’s solid social protection system provides a strong foundation which government can use to expand support to the most vulnerable Mauritian households.

Mauritius had a strong Fabian socialist inspired leadership at independence. It is therefore one of the few countries that successfully preserved its welfare state throughout its stabilisation and structural adjustments programmes in the 1980s. Today the country boasts a social protection system that is broad and relatively extensive in coverage.

Mauritius’ entrenched social protection culture meant that government promptly acted to minimise job losses from the 2008 global financial crisis. Its welfare system enabled timely policy responses, helping minimise the socio-economic impact of the crisis.

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