Africa’s economic rebound in 2021 impacted by the persistence of COVID-19 and the Russian-Ukrainian crisis

FILE PIC: President of the African Development Bank (ADB). Akinwumi Adesina

Africa’s GDP recovered strongly last year, but the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian-Ukrainian conflict could pose significant medium-term challenges. This is according to the African Economic Outlook 2022, from the African Development Bank.

FILE PIC: African Development Bank (AfDB) President Akinwumi Adesina.

The report released on Wednesday shows that Africa’s gross domestic product grew by around 6.9% in 2021. This is after the continent suffered a pandemic-induced contraction of 1.6% in 2020.

Rising oil prices and global demand have generally helped improve Africa’s macroeconomic fundamentals, according to the report. But growth could decelerate to 4.1% in 2022 and remain stuck there in 2023, due to the persistence of the pandemic and inflationary pressures caused by the Russian-Ukrainian crisis. Both countries are Africa’s main grain suppliers.

The African Development Bank Group responded to the likelihood of a looming food crisis with a $1.5 billion African Emergency Food Production Facility approved by the Group’s Board of Directors last week.

AfDB President Dr. Akinwumi Adesina said that international efforts, including those of the African Development Bank Group, the G20 Common Framework for Debt Treatment and the $650 billion in human rights special drawdowns issued by the International Monetary Fund, support the continent’s recovery.

However, he said recovery would still be costly.

“Africa will need at least $432 billion to deal with the effects of COVID-19 on its economies and on the lives of its people – resources it does not have,” Adesina said.

The African Economic Outlook 2022 offers a series of policy recommendations to build back better and generate resilient economies in Africa.

Proposals include accelerating vaccination against COVID-19 and providing strong support to domestic pharmaceutical industries; reduce reliance on single food sources and review global debt frameworks.

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