The economic slump in sub-Saharan Africa caused by the coronavirus outbreak could last well over three years, Ghana’s finance minister said on Tuesday.
Much of the region has been spared the infection and death rates that have hit other parts of the world, data suggests, but its economies have been battered by the pandemic and restrictions imposed by governments to contain it.
“We are in the middle of the first recession in sub-Saharan Africa in the last 25 years,” said Ghana’s Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta.
The slump may last well over three years and could push between 26 and 39 million people continent-wide into extreme poverty. “Many of our economies are facing economic contractions of up to 15% of gross domestic product and severe liquidity challenges,” he added.
Ofori-Atta, who also serves as chairman of the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) board of governors, was speaking during the swearing-in of AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina to a second five-year term.
The AfDB said in July it expected Africa’s economy to partially rebound next year but that it could still lose nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars in output over 2020 and 2021.
African countries have recorded nearly 1.25 million COVID-19 infections and almost 30,000 deaths. Their relatively low caseloads have been attributed to their relative isolation, early preventive measures taken by authorities and limited testing that suggests the true figures are higher.