In a new Regional Economic Outlook report from the IMF released on Thursday, “Sub-Saharan Africa’s potential is still undeniable, and the need for bold and transformative reforms is more urgent than ever.”
Although the COVID-19 pandemic affected wealthy and poor countries alike, the Sub-Saharan African region’s economy and health infrastructure has been disproportionately affected.
Almost all Sub-Saharan African nations started at a different level than the rest of the world in terms of health infrastructure and economic stability. In turn, this led to a huge ripple effect, creating mass unemployment and shrinking GDP, while also overburdening health practitioners.
Africa will be heavily reliant on the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) facility to roll out vaccines to Africans throughout the continent, the report said.
COVAX has already delivered 38 million vaccines to Africans but it is far from the numbers needed to control the virus, with the African continent holding about 1.4 billion people.
Due to a decline in cases, businesses have started to gradually reopen to mitigate economic and social setbacks.
Despite overall global recovery, the travel industry remains to be stagnant. Tourism-dependent countries, like The Gambia and Seychelles have been uniquely challenged, losing a critical source of employment and government revenue due to loss in tourism.
The IMF report remained hopeful that as soon as tourism and international travel resumed, there should be greater bounceback in these areas.
Policymaking in Africa will be a challenge. The first priority should be to save lives, but with rapidly shrinking economies, more businesses and investments need a significant boost.
The IMF’s bold reforms include providing resilience to future shocks, and the best return on growth and employment.
Recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic will be a massive undertaking. Moving forward, creating a stronger economic safety net remains to be one of the largest fiscal challenges in Africa.