Up to 39 million Africans are going to be shoved into extreme poverty as a consequence of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
This is according to a forecast by the African Development Bank.
‘Populations with lower levels of education, few assets, and working in informal jobs are the most affected and must be protected,’ it said in its 2021 economic outlook.
Already, some 30 million Africans have been forced into abject poverty by the virus, the AfDB said.
The gloomy picture is despite the projection that economies on the continent will rebound and grow by an average of 3.4 percent this year.
According to the AfDB, the continent’s 54 economies shrank by 2.1 percent last year, the AfDB said.
African Governments last year boosted their spending in effort to support their economies through the crisis, putting pressure on budgetary balances and debt burdens
In Ghana, the government has already announced a raft of taxes and levies to make up for heavy spending during last year’s COVID-19 response spending, even though experts point out the better part of the money was actually spent on political campaign projects.
The average debt-to-GDP ratio for Africa is expected to climb by 10 to 15 percentage points in the short to medium term,’ the AfDB said.
It added that the worsening outcomes will be driven by the surge in government spending and the contraction of fiscal revenues caused by the pandemic.
AfDB called on the international community to work with policymakers on the continent to help it deal with debt loads that are getting heavier and heavier.
‘‘Africa’s debt burden must be prioritised and not ignored,’ it said. ‘The time for one last debt relief drive for Africa is now.’’