The Sub-Saharan Africa region will see economic growth reverse and plunge to between -2.1 per cent to as low as -5.1 per cent this year due to the COVID-19 global crisis.
The region will fall into its first recession for 25 years, compared with 2.4 per cent growth last year, according to the World Bank’s Africa’s Pulse, its twice-yearly economic update for the region.
The economic shrinkage will cost Sub-Saharan Africa between $37bn to $79bn in lost output this year due to a sharp decline in output growth with key trading partners including China and Europe as well a steep fall in commodity prices, led by oil, Quartz Africa, says.
Many countries will also experience reduced tourism activity as well as the domestic measures to contain the Coronavirus global pandemic.
The negative economic growth rate forecast looks even starker when compared with a Sub-Saharan Africa population growth projection of 2.7 per cent.
The region, which had been expected to grow around 3.6 per cent this year, has been home to some of the world’s fastest-growing economies over the last decade.
The spread of the pandemic in Africa itself has been relatively slow with around 11,000 cases and 500 plus deaths relative to the continent’s 1.2 billion population.
But the World Bank says it’s worried the relatively low number of cases might reflect under-testing.
There are also concerns among global health bodies and NGOs that a widespread pandemic on the continent could have disproportionately bad outcomes due to the fragile health systems of many countries, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa.
To that end, several countries have effectively shut down large portions of their economies to prevent people from moving around and spreading the virus easily.
The full or partial lockdown of major cities including Lagos, Johannesburg, Nairobi, Harare and Accra among others across Africa has also highlighted the harsh reality of how the majority of urban Africans live off the cash-driven informal sector, which dominates most of the region’s economies.