Covid-19 spreads to Africa, threatening 50 million people in extreme poverty

In a report released on Tuesday, the African Development Bank is concerned about the financial impact of the coronavirus epidemic that could throw 50 million people into extreme poverty. The continent has crossed 500,000 brands of pollution.

The “epidemic outbreak” of Covid-19, feared for a time in Africa, did not occur. The number of cases continues to increase – 489,000 positive cases according to WHO, more than 500,000 according to an AFP number, 11,500 deaths – but the continent with 1.2 billion inhabitants remains the least affected in the world after Oceania.

In a report published Tuesday, July 7BBC Africa notes how fast the virus seems to have spread since mid-May: “While it took almost a hundred days for Africa to reach an initial number of 100,000 cases, it only took 18 days for the number to double. It doubled again to 400 000 in the next 20 days. “

>> See: Coronavirus, the African challenge, investigation into the evolution of the pandemic on the continent

Figures to be put into perspective as the testing capacity of African states has increased significantly in recent months. “44 African countries [sur 54] can now test on Covid-19. At the beginning of the epidemic, only two could do it, ” notes WHO. South Africa, which very early introduced very strict containment of its population, is still the most affected country, with more than 215,000 cases identified, more than France, which has 10 million more inhabitants.

Confirmed daily cases of coronavirus in Africa from 25 February to 30 June © WHO

Significant economic recession

The real crisis coming on the continent, where a third of the population, or 425 million people, lives below the poverty line (with less than $ 1.90 a day in purchasing power parity), will be quite economical, according to a report released on Tuesday by the African Development Bank (AfDB). “Between 28.2 and 49.2 million Africans may fall into extreme poverty” this year and next year, according to AfDB scenarios, depending on the duration and extent of the economic recession.

The development institution with its headquarters in Abidjan anticipates a major economic downturn for the continent, with a decline in GDP from 1.7% to 3.4% this year. A loss of 5.6 to 7.3 points compared to growth forecasts before the Covid-19 crisis, which were largely positive.

It is Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa with 200 million inhabitants, which should see the greatest increase in poverty. Between 8.5 and 11.5 million Nigerians are expected to fall into extreme poverty by 2020, in this country heavily dependent on its oil sector, which was hit hard by the global economic crisis and the fall in prices of black gold.

Coronavirus pandemics also pose an increased risk to the African countries’ public debt, says AfDB. In order to limit the socio-economic impact of the crisis, many countries have indeed announced major fiscal stimulus plans, up to 10% of GDP in South Africa.

Debt-to-GDP ratio in Africa, according to AfDB
Debt-to-GDP ratio in Africa, according to AfDB © AfDB

Thus, the budget deficits would “double” on the continent, reaching 8 to 9% of GDP, while “many African countries have approached this crisis with high debt-to-GDP ratios”. The Covid-19 crisis “reinforces the likelihood of a generalized and deep government debt crisis”, AfDB worries.

With AFP