The spread of the coronavirus into sub-Saharan Africa will hit the region’s economic growth hard, with direct disruptions to people’s livelihoods, tighter financial conditions, reduced trade and investment and a steep drop in commodity prices, the International Monetary Fund said on Wednesday.
In a blog posting on the IMF’s website, top officials in the Fund’s Africa Department said they have received requests for emergency financing from over 20 nations in the region and expect at least 10 more soon.
On Tuesday, the Fund announced that Ghana had requested a rapid-disbursing emergency loan to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva on Monday said some 80 countries had requested loans from emergency facilities, under which some $50 billion is available, with at least 20 more requests expected.
“Across the region, growth will be hit hard. Precisely how hard is still difficult to say. But it is clear that our growth forecast in April’s regional outlook will be significantly lower,” Abebe Aemro Selassie, director of the IMF Africa Department, and Karen Ongley, mission chief for Sierra Leone, wrote in the blog posting.
During the global financial crisis more than a decade ago, African countries were spared the brunt of the economic impact, because many were less integrated with global financial markets and supply chains, Selassie and Ongley wrote. Debt levels were lower too and countries had more room to increase spending to boost growth.