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An outlet of Shoprite in Lagos. The South African-owned shopping mall chain has 25 outlets in Nigeria. Economic downturn caused by COVID-19 will impact negatively on consumer spending, according to experts / Photo: Femi Awoniyi

Sub-Saharan Africa to lose $200bn in 2020, says IMF

Sub-Sahara African countries will lose about $200bn in incomes by the end of 2020, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The development is as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is pulling the global economy towards recession.

IMF had already, in its latest Regional Economic Outlook, projected that the economies of Sub-Saharan African countries would contract by 1.6 per cent this year.

The projected 1.6 per cent contraction is the worst reading on record for the region.

The projected $200bn loss in income for countries in the region was disclosed in a podcast posted on IMF website on Tuesday.

In the podcast, Papa N’Diaye, Head of the Regional Studies Division in IMF’s African Department, noted that the region was “facing unprecedented health and economic crisis that threatens to reverse much of the development progress it has made in recent years”.

Ndiaye, who heads the research team that worked on the Regional Economic Outlook, observed that at the end of 2020, countries in the region would face income losses of about $200bn relative to what they were expecting six months ago.

“There will be large income losses from this crisis. By the end of 2020 the region will face income losses of about $200bn relative to what they were expecting six months ago,” Ndiaye said.

“We are expecting incomes to be four per cent below what they were six months ago,” he added.

The IMF official pointed out that Sub-Saharan African countries were making tremendous progress towards achieving sustainable economic development before the outbreak of the pandemic.

He noted that several countries in the region recorded increase in per capita income and life expectancy, among other indices.

Ndiaye also observed that the countries had agreed on the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA), an arrangement which would facilitate regional trade integration.

He expressed regrets that the implementation of the ACFTA “which promised to be a game changer” had been delayed by the pandemic.

“We hope it (delay) is temporary,” he added, noting that the ACFTA would increase income in the region.

Ndiaye warned that failure to contain the spread of the virus in the region would have catastrophic economic, health and humanitarian consequences.

He observed that failure to check the spread of the disease could undermine progress recorded in other parts of the world.

Major oil producing countries, such as Nigeria and Angola, will suffer more losses, the IMF official said.

“The drop in oil prices is hitting the oil exporting countries like Nigeria and Angola.

“It is having a big impact and not just in terms of growth, they will suffer a sharp decline in terms of revenue.

“They have limited fiscal space and will need the support of the international community,” he observed.

Although he admitted that countries in the region that import oil will benefit from the fall in oil prices, Ndiaye pointed out that “no country will be spared” the negative economic consequences of the pandemic.

Kola Tella with agency reports

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