Africa braces for “complete collapse of economies” as coronavirus wreaks havoc

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African leaders are warning of an economic collapse if no financial aid is provided to the millions of unemployed people due to the new coronavirus.

More than half of the 54 African countries have imposed restrictions, curfews, travel bans or other measures to prevent local transmission of the virus.

A woman, wearing a protective mask as a precaution against the spread of the new coronavirus, carries her groceries while walking the street in Johannesburg, South Africa.

A woman, wearing a protective mask as a precaution against the spread of the new coronavirus, carries her groceries while walking the street in Johannesburg, South Africa.
(AP)

“The African labor market is stimulated by imports and exports and, with the blockage all over the world, this essentially means that the economy is frozen locally,” Ahunna Eziakonwa, regional director of the United Nations Development Program for Africa. “And with that, of course, all the jobs are gone. “

With some governments claiming that they are unable to provide direct support, the plight of Africa’s large informal sector could be a powerful example of what experts predict will be unprecedented damage to the economies of developing countries. .

Unless the spread of the virus can be controlled, up to 50% of the total employment growth forecast in Africa will be lost as aviation, services, exports, mining, agriculture and the sector informal will all suffer, said Eziakonwa.

“We will see a complete collapse of economies and livelihoods. The livelihoods will be wiped out in a way that we have never seen before, “she warned.

The head of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Vera Songwe, said in March that Africa may need up to $ 10.6 billion in unanticipated increases in health spending, and that lost revenue could lead to debt becoming unsustainable.

The International Monetary Fund said it had received requests for emergency funding from about 20 African countries, with requests from 10 or more more likely to follow. The IMF has since approved credit facilities for at least two West African countries facing economic turmoil linked to the virus.

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ECA called for emergency measures to protect 30 million immediately threatened jobs across Africa, particularly in the tourism and airline sectors, saying the continent will be hit harder than others with an economic assessment which will worsen “current fragilities”.

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Noting that “the rich countries are unlocking dizzying sums” to stimulate their economy, the President of Benin Patrice Talon said that his West African country, “like most African countries, does not have these means”.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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