Growth in Sub Saharan Africa is expected to gradually recover if the pandemic slows down in the second half of 2020 with the IMF forecasting a return to 3.4% growth next year (it previously projected 4% growth). One of the reasons for Africa’s “shallower” growth than the global 2021 forecast of 5.4% is that Sub Saharan Africa countries have fewer and smaller policy options than more advanced economies. This is why the region’s largest economies Angola, Nigeria and South Africa will not see real GDP growth return to pre-crisis levels till 2023 or 2024.

The challenge for the IMF and other economic prognosticators is it’s very difficult to say with any degree of confidence the pandemic will be under control anytime soon, especially in Africa. A common feature across several African countries is even as they’ve ended lockdowns or opened up, the Covid-19 case load numbers have accelerated. The numbers in Africa are still relatively low—lower on a “per million” basis than Europe and Latin America (though higher than Asia).

But while it’s often said Africa’s economic crisis could be worse than the pandemic health crisis, IMF’s Abebe Selassie calls this a “false dichotomy”. “If you don’t have the disease under control you’re not going to have an economic recovery, it’s not going to be durable.”

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