IMF spells doom for sub-Saharan Africa

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By Earlene Chimoyo

Experts are predicting that the continued spread of coronavirus will shrink development in sub-Saharan Africa by 1.6 percent this year.

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) the pandemic, which has impacted the global economy, is also threatening to reverse much of the progress that the region has made in recent years.

The sub-Saharan region includes some of the world’s poorest nations like Malawi which is still lagging behind in as far as development is concerned.

Sub-Saharan Africa is one region where many of the world’s least developed countries are found.

As global powers struggle to cope with the coronavirus pandemic which has left their economies hanging on a balance, the weaker nations’ future looks very bleak as their source of development funding is all but dry.

As the Head of Research of the Economic Outlook publication in the IMF’s African Department Papa N'Diaye explains, huge income losses should be expected.

As an example, Malawi is one of the nations that are yet to fully develop and still looks up to the international community for development funding and extra support for its national budget.

Already, the IMF has come to the rescue of some of the countries through release of funds to help in stabilising their economies as well as debt relief.

This, coupled by the debt relief from fellow Bretton Wood institution the World Bank, has to some extent eased pressure on most of these weaker economies in the region.

Locally, the Minister of Finance Joseph Mwanamvekha has just finished working on the proposed 2020/2021 national budget whose deliberation is pending a cue from health authorities in relation to safety measures.

N'Diaye is also hopeful that such relief may help save some of the countries in the region.

In line with the anticipated income losses, local development planners are now projecting tough times for Malawi’s economy from losses to recovery.

Currently there is a new threat to the efforts of containing the virus – the political campaigns by various parties battling for the leadership of this country.

There are fears that political rallies which are defying social distancing rules will likely further weaken the ailing health system which is the cause for worry for health workers.

The visibly challenged health system is also a great concern in the matter of development progress at hand.

N’Diaye again.

The IMF is, therefore, suggesting increased international support for the countries in the region if sub-Saharan is to recover from the projected losses.

The Fund, thus, warns that failure to contain the spread of the virus will have catastrophic economic, health and humanitarian consequences hence the need for countries in the region to enhance efforts in the combating Covid-19.

 

 

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