Economic impacts of and policy responses to the coronavirus pandemic: early evidence from Africa

Dirk Willem te Velde, March 2020


African countries will be hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. ODI’s vulnerability assessment paper, published when the virus first emerged in China, suggested that Angola, Congo, Sierra Leone, Lesotho and Zambia were the countries most exposed. Taking into account ability to respond and resilience more widely (e.g. Ethiopia and Ghana have high debt), the most vulnerable countries included Kenya, Zambia, Rwanda, Sudan and Ghana.

Africa is likely to be hit by at least $100 billion in economic costs (or approximately 5% of gross domestic product (GDP)) this year as a result of the coronavirus crisis. Beyond this headline number, several detailed impacts are already becoming clearer. The G20 is hammering out its stimulus packages; African countries need to step up their economic response too, and the G20 could help them. The purpose of this note is to examine early evidence on actual economic impacts (trade, finance and other impacts), social impacts and impacts on government revenues and considers economic policy responses in Africa. 

Photo: Flower kiosk in Nairobi, Kenya. Luigi Guarino/The World Bank. Licence: (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)