The COVID-19 pandemic will drive Sub-Saharan Africa into recession with -5% growth, this year, the World Bank has predicted. It would be the first regional recession in 25 Years, the bank said.
The fall would be a sharp contrast from the 2.4% regional growth in 2019 as the new forecast has put it at between -2.1 % to -5.1% in 2020. The forecast was contained in the latest Africa’s Pulse, the World Bank’s twice-yearly economic update for the region.
Hafez Ghanem, World Bank Vice President for Africa, was quoted as saying, “The COVID-19 pandemic is testing the limits of societies and economies across the world, and African countries are likely to be hit particularly hard.
“We are rallying all possible resources to help countries meet people’s immediate health and survival needs while also safeguarding livelihoods and jobs in the longer term – including calling for a standstill on official bilateral debt service payments which would free up funds for strengthening health systems to deal with COVID 19 and save lives, social safety nets to save livelihoods and help workers who lose jobs, support to small and medium enterprises, and food security.”
The Pulse recommends that African policymakers focus on saving lives and protecting livelihoods by focusing on strengthening health systems and taking quick actions to minimize disruptions in food supply chains. It also recommends implementing social protection programs, including cash transfers, food distribution and fee waivers, to support citizens, especially those working in the informal sector.
The analysis shows that COVID-19 will cost the region between $37 billion and $79 billion in output losses for 2020 due to a combination of effects.