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The Economic Impact of COVID-19 in Africa: A Round-Up of This Week’s Analysis
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The coronavirus pandemic continues to take its toll on the African continent. While the continent as a whole still accounts for relatively few deaths from the disease, the numbers are rising, with more than 4,700 confirmed cases and 127 deaths. As countries scramble to contain the virus—and are affected by the efforts of other countries to do the same—the economic impacts grow.

Here’s a selection of this week’s coverage on the observed and expected economic impacts across the continent, divided into growth and income, sectors and sub-populations, policy responses, and commentary.

Growth and income analysis

  • McKinsey proposes different scenarios for Africa’s growth in the wake of COVID-19. Before the crisis, the 2020 growth estimate for the continent was 3.9 percent. In the “least-worst case,” characterized by the outbreak being somewhat contained both globally and in Africa, growth drops to 0.4 percent. In other scenarios (including a lack of containment globally and in Africa), the rate drops as low as -3.9 percent. The scenarios explicitly do not take into account either fiscal stimulus packages or currency devaluations.
  • Breisinger and others estimate monthly GDP losses for Egypt under a range of scenarios, with estimates around 0.7 to 0.8 percent.

Sector and sub-population analysis

  • The World Food Programme’s analysis for West and Central Africa highlights that 2019/2020 had been a strong agricultural season “with overall higher than average production of cereals,” which is good for food security. But despite that, the “consumer price index for food is at its highest since 2008 in the Monetary Union of West Africa zone.” They talk about informality, remittances, and migration, and here’s their take on agriculture:

    “More than 80 percent of rural population rely on subsistence farming in West and Central Africa. The 2020 off season harvests should be reaching markets and providing substantial incomes of stallholder farmer. However, market closure, restriction on internal and cross borders movement limit markets access. Planting period starts in May/June for the main agricultural season while the Covid-19 epidemic is forcing governments to cut agricultural expenses and to prioritize health-related expenditures. If the above-mentioned restrictions continue, famers won’t have access to market to buy good quality seeds and fertilizers.”