The World Bank says countries in Sub-Saharan Africa will experience economic growth next year as they begin to lift movement restrictions. This is even as many suffer the adverse effects of coronavirus.
According to the World Bank, COVID-19 has wiped out a decade of economic progress in this region.
The US-based lender said the GDP of Sub-Sahara Africa would shrink 3.3% this year, its worst performance on record, due to the combined effects of the disease and lower oil and commodities prices.
Economic growth of about 2.1% could follow in 2021 and 3.2% in 2022, the bank said. Still, the fallout of the pandemic remains hard to predict.
The World Bank’s baseline scenario assumes that the number of new infections will continue to slow and that fresh outbreaks won’t result in lockdowns. If the spell is more prolonged or if there’s a second wave, sub-Saharan Africa’s economy may expand by only 1.2% in 2021 and 2.1% in 2022.
By the end of 2021, the region’s real per-capita GDP may have regressed to 2007 levels, according to the report.
That’s likely to lead to long-term output losses “with the level of real per-capita GDP expected to contract by 2.1% and 5.1%,” confirming earlier forecasts that sub-Saharan Africa will suffer its first economic decline in a century.
While East Africa and southern Africa are expected to experience slower growth in 2020 compared to West and Central Africa, their economies may expand faster next year at 2.7%, versus 1.3% in West and Central Africa.
To give Africa’s poorest countries some breathing room, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have proposed suspending debt servicing this year.
However, that would address only a fraction of total debt, and debt relief from private creditors is likely needed as well, the bank said.