There has long been concern over the economic damage being done by lockdowns imposed to combat the spread of COVID-19. But while President Donald Trump sees a “light at the end of the tunnel” for America, the same can’t be said for the rest of the world.
Fox News reported Sunday that leaders in Africa are concerned that the coronavirus pandemic could lead to the “complete collapse of economies and livelihoods” across much of the continent.
“We will see a complete collapse of economies and livelihoods,” Ahunna Eziakonwa, the United Nations Development Program’s regional director for Africa, said in an interview, according to Fox.
She went on: “Livelihoods will be wiped out in a way we have never seen before.”
A complete collapse?
Though the virus that originated in China appears to have been slow to spread in Africa, roughly half of the continent’s 54 nations have already imposed the same sort of curfews, lockdowns, travel restrictions, and other measures that have been seen in much of Europe and North America.
But without a fundamentally strong economy — and certainly, without any substantial financial assistance from the rest of the world — much of Africa will be incapable of weathering the financial storm brought on by the coronavirus, Eziakonwa told the Associated Press.
“The African labor market is driven by imports and exports and with the lockdown everywhere in the world, it means basically that the economy is frozen in place,” she said, according to Fox.
Eziakonwa continued: “And with that, of course, all the jobs are gone.”
Africa pleads for help
Eziakonwa went on to explain that, aside from the “unprecedented” damage to Africa’s rather large “informal” economy, a failure to adequately contain the spread of COVID-19 could result in the loss of at least half of expected job growth for incredibly important sectors of the African economy, including agriculture, aviation, exports, mining, and the service industries, among others.
To try and prevent such widespread economic collapse, roughly half of all African nations have already requested or are in the process of requesting immediate emergency financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Fox reports.
The IMF has agreed to extend emergency credit to at least two West African nations thus far, according to Fox. And Patrice Talon, president of Benin, says the countries really do need that aid.
“The rich countries are unlocking staggering sums” to get their economies back up and running, Talon said recently, according to Fox. He went on to lament that Benin, “like most African countries, does not have these means.”