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Sub-Saharan Africa’s economic growth set to recover in 2021 – IMF

Sub-Saharan Africa’s economic growth is set to recover in 2021. Yet, the path to recovery, and overcoming the long-lasting effects of the pandemic will be difficult.

Policymakers must strive to deliver vaccines, while restoring the health of public balance sheets harmed by the crisis. Transformative reforms and renewed external support are more important than ever to rekindle the region’s growth, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in its latest Regional Economic Outlook for Sub-Saharan Africa.

“Sub-Saharan Africa is continuing to grapple with an unprecedented health and economic crisis,” stressed Abebe Aemro Selassie, Director of the IMF’s African Department. “Since our last assessment of the Regional Economic Outlook in October 2020, the region has confronted a second pandemic wave, which outpaced the scale and speed of the first. And many countries continue to face or are bracing for further waves, particularly as access to vaccines remains scant.

“The pandemic has had a devastating impact on the region’s economy. The estimated ‑1.9 percent contraction in 2020 is somewhat less severe than anticipated last October, but it is still the worst year on record. While the region is projected to grow by 3.4 percent in 2021, per capita output is not expected to return to 2019 levels until after 2022.

“The economic hardships have caused significant social dislocation, with far too many being thrust back into poverty. In many countries, per capita incomes will not return to pre-crisis levels until 2025. The number of extreme poor in sub-Saharan Africa is projected to have increased by more than 32 million. The ‘learning loss’ has been enormous, with students missing 67 days of instruction, more than four times the level in advanced economies.

“Sub-Saharan Africa will be the world’s slowest growing region in 2021, with limits on access to vaccines and policy space holding back the near-term recovery. While some advanced economies have secured enough vaccine doses to cover their own populations several times, many sub-Saharan African countries are struggling to vaccinate essential frontline workers. Few will achieve widespread vaccine availability before 2023. And most countries in the region were not in position to mount the scale of extraordinary fiscal and monetary policy support that is helping to drive the recovery in advanced economies.

“The outlook for sub-Saharan Africa continues to face greater-than-usual uncertainty. While pandemic-related risks dominate, other factors such as access to external financing, political instability, domestic security, or climate shocks could jeopardize the recovery. More positively, faster‑than‑anticipated vaccine supply or rollout could boost the region’s near-term prospects.”

Source: Further Africa

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