Countries around the world are struggling to deal with record numbers of new COVID-19 infections. Particularly, countries like Kenya and India have been battling to keep up with the demand for oxygen. Trevor Duke provides some guidance on what countries can do to secure better oxygen supplies. Governments and health services should invest in bedside oxygen concentrators and generators to supply whole hospital or district needs. And global agencies should support this in a way similar to the scaling up of vaccines through global partnerships like COVAX.

Meanwhile the global drive to vaccinate people against the coronavirus faces challenges. Even developed countries that have secured the bulk of the world’s COVID-19 vaccine supplies are falling short of their vaccination targets. Nana Kofi Quakyi explains some of the key challenges facing Ghana’s rollout plans, while Veronica Ueckermann takes a closer look at the issues preventing South Africa’s vaccination from taking off.

Moina Spooner

Commissioning Editor: East and Francophone Africa

Police personnel escort a truck carrying medical liquid oxygen to the Guru Nanak Dev hospital in Amritsar, India, on April 24, 2021. Photo by NARINDER NANU/AFP via Getty Images

What steps must be taken to secure oxygen – for COVID-19 patients and into the future

Trevor Duke, The University of Melbourne

For now, governments and health services should invest in bedside oxygen concentrators and oxygen generators to supply whole hospital needs.

Ghana’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout is struggling to keep up with its great start

Nana Kofi Quakyi, New York University

The COVID-19 vaccination programme requires stringent data collection and transparency.

The reasons South Africa’s COVID-19 vaccine programme looks bleak

Veronica Ueckermann, University of Pretoria

At the current vaccination pace it will take over a decade for South Africa to reach herd immunity, with many lives lost along the way.

Arts, Culture + Society

An Oscar for My Octopus Teacher is a boost for South African film. But …

Liani Maasdorp, University of Cape Town; Ian-Malcolm Rijsdijk, University of Cape Town

A tide of 'the feels' buoyed the underdog documentary to an Oscar win – but the local industry will need to focus on where international gains are most needed.

What triangular patterns on rocks may reveal about human ancestors

Charles Helm, Nelson Mandela University

It appears that the South African Cape south coast's dunes and beaches formed a vast canvas of sand on which our ancestors could leave their mark.

Environment + Energy

Pasha 105: Two academics weigh in on Botswana allowing elephant hunting

Ozayr Patel, The Conversation

Is Botswana allowing the hunting of elephants a good or a bad thing? Two academics weigh in.

Why renewable energy won’t end energy poverty in Zimbabwe

Ellen Fungisai Chipango, University of Johannesburg

The socio-economic and political factors that keep conventional energy out of reach of the poor can do the same with renewable energy.

Business + Economy

Lessons from Igbo trans-generational entrepreneurship: why it matters

Nnamdi Madichie, Nnamdi Azikiwe University

The Igbos, like most other indigenous groups, believe in maintaining a legacy of not just their language, but other values, including trans-generational business legacies.

Why Ghana doesn’t get the full value of its cocoa beans – and how this could change

Sophie Van Huellen, SOAS, University of London

The importance of raw cocoa beans to Ghana's foreign exchange earnings is derailing the development of a viable chocolate industry

Health + Medicine

What Nigeria must do to eliminate malaria: three researchers offer insights

Wale Fatade, The Conversation

Nigeria must invest more in research and incorporate World Health Organisation-recommended interventions to eliminate malaria.

COVID-19 has left Ghana’s healthcare workers stressed – but simple things can help

Patience Afulani, University of California, San Francisco

Provider burnout is expensive for the health system given its associations with low quality of care, absenteeism, and high workforce turnover.


Somalia’s toxic political and security order: the death knell of democracy

Abdi Ismail Samatar, University of Pretoria

The political and security order which numerous foreign actors have been investing in has produced marginal benefits for the population.

Ghana’s secessionist conflict has its genesis in colonialism: it’s time to reflect

Julius Heise, University of Marburg; Werner Distler, University of Marburg

Colonial powers framed secessionism as a threat to state-building and not as an expression of self-determination

Dèby’s death threatens security in the Sahel: Nigeria has a key role to play

Folahanmi Aina, King's College London

Chadian president Idriss Deby's death has serious implications for stability in the troubled Lake Chad Basin and the broader Sahel region of West Africa.

South Africa remains a nation of insiders and outsiders, 27 years after democracy

Steven Friedman, University of Johannesburg

In the country’s insider politics, the majority who try to survive outside the formal economy are talked about, but are never heard.


Grit matters when a child is learning to read, even in poor South African schools

Heleen Hofmeyr, Stellenbosch University

Research shows that grit is a strong predictor of reading achievement. This suggests that socio-emotional skills are important for student achievement, even in high-poverty contexts.

Education and inequality in 2021: how to change the system

Conrad Hughes, Université de Genève

Far too often it is still an education for some and not for everybody.


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