Was COVID-19 good or bad for social protection?

This Special Brief is based on the Keynote Address by Prof. Stephen Devereux at the 9th SASPEN Annual Conference in 2022, themed, "Social Protection at a Crossroads: Between COVID-19 and the SDGs – Southern African Perspectives."  It looks at the onset of COVID-19, the impact of the pandemic, and the response to the pandemic by African countries. But before delving into this key question, the author looks at the recent history of social protection in Africa broken down into 4 phases; the inception, expansion, consolidation and institutionalisation of social protection. The brief then addresses the key question by showing the influence the pandemic had on social protection systems in African countries, drawing particular attention to the gaps in the systems, as well as possible outcomes when it comes to the individual countries' priorities in the next few years.