UN says up to 29 million people in Africa at risk of extreme poverty due to COVID-19


Nearly 29 million people in Africa might fall into extreme poverty due to the negative economic impacts of COVID-19 pandemic, an official at the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) said.

Bartholomew Armah, director of Macroeconomic Policy and Governance at ECA, said that Africa’s projected economic growth would drop to negative 2.7 percent thereby having a devastating effect on employment and peoples’ livelihoods.

“Five to 29 million people will be pushed into extreme poverty and 19 million will be jobless due to the growth decline,” Armah said on Friday evening during a webinar discussing effects of COVID-19 on the continent’s economy.

ECA is now calling for development partners to come to the aid of African countries with a financial boost of 100 billion U.S. dollars to support recovery of their economies.

Armah said Africa needs the money to finance stimulus packages, boost revenue streams, repay debts and support social protection schemes for the impoverished.

He said that tourism and aviation sectors are at risk of collapse due to their dependence on the European market for business, currently reeling from the effects of the pandemic.

An estimated 6.2 million people employed in air transport would directly bear the brunt of the downfall of the business, further hurting millions others dependent on them, said Armah.

“In 2018, 95 percent of the 1.4 billion tourists to Africa were from outside the continent. Fifty-one percent of the visitors were from Europe,” said Armah.

Thokozile Ruzvidzo, director of Gender, Poverty and Social Policy at ECA urged countries to prioritize support for women in the informal sector who make up 90 percent of the human resource base.”We are encouraging Member States to look at start-up funds as a stimulus package to assist women re-open their business,” said Ruzvidzo.

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