Globally, leaders in at least 26% of countries have been infected by Covid-19. But in sub-Saharan Africa, that number is 67%. And while there have been few fatalities among elites outside Africa, political leaders in the quarter of sub-Saharan states have already died from the virus.

Africa is hitting new milestones. Unfortunately, they are not good ones. This weekend, South Africa surpassed half-a-million confirmed Covid-19 cases, and the number for the continent is approaching one million.

This is cause for concern. But the alarm over the rapidly escalating infections has overlooked a critical issue. Unlike other regions, the virus has had a disproportionately large and early impact on the elite in Africa, creating the possibility of significantly increased instability.

The stability of many conflict-affected countries hinges on a delicate political ecosystem. The infection of national leaders – there have been reports of infections in the governments of at least 29 countries so far – can upend the balance of power, leading to the potential for unstable governments and greater armed conflict.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world is largely ignoring Africa, removing humanitarian support and key political restraints in countries where international influence is impactful.

This could not come at…

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