Sub-Saharan Africa will see its 2020 economic growth so impacted by the coronavirus pandemic that the International Monetary Fund warns of the worst performance in 50 years.
That’s according to IMF African director Abebe Aemro Selassie, who participated in a press briefing Wednesday at the IMF spring meetings, which are being held as virtual sessions because of social distancing and the COVID-19 lockdowns across the globe.
“Outlook in Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to contract by 1.6 percent in 2020, and highest, you know, in per capita terms, this would be higher still at close to 4 percent,” he said. “This is the lowest growth number that we can find for the region going back at least to 1970.”
And that’s if it doesn’t turn out to be worse.
“The hit to growth reflects a poisonous cocktail of shocks that is affecting livelihoods and economic activity,” said Selassie, noting the closed borders and shattered businesses that the pandemic has caused across the globe.
On the African continent, the impacts to the most vulnerable are compounded.
“No country will be spared,” said Selassie. “As elsewhere, the region faces a synchronized and deep economic downturn with less diversified economies. All exporters’ tourism dependent economies set to be very hard. Against this difficult backdrop, several urgent and decisive measured are needed to limit the humanitarian and economic cost of this crisis.”
While focus remains on public health, the IMF plans some US$11.5 billion in support for 32 African nations. The director urged governments to adopt smart fiscal policies including cash transfers in response to the pandemic.
A complete transcript of Selassie’s remarks is available here.