COVID-19: Experts Confident of Finding Solutions to Economic Impact

ADDIS ABEBA – The 2020 African Economic Conference ended on an upbeat note on Thursday as the continent’s leading researchers, economists and other experts called for a united approach to beating the COVID-19 pandemic.

The coronavirus is not only a public health emergency. It also poses a major threat to the African economies. The pandemic has already taken a large toll on economic activity.

According to the World Bank, it could drive a 3.3% contraction in sub-Saharan African economies in 2020 and could push 40 million people into extreme poverty.

Despite challenges, experts, who met in Addis Abeba for three days this week, said it has also put African economies redefine their development trajectory.

“Though it has been challenging, COVID-19 has given Africa the opportunity to rethink development paradigms, reimagine the future, reposition the private sector, and reassess the way we utilize technology,” said Raymond Gilpin, Chief Economist at the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

“For too long we have seen how the private and public sectors have worked in opposite directions. There is a huge opportunity to work more closely.”

Participates have also called on the private sector to take up the opportunity to fill the gap to direct investments to meet the critical needs of the continent.

‘No Solo Efforts’

The past few years have seen a new impetus to make Africa’s voice heard in the global multilateral system. The experts say this has to be repeated in facing challenges posed by the pandemic.

Hanan Morsy, Director of Macroeconomic Policy at the African Development Bank, said the outcome of the experts meeting “restored our confidence in an Africa capable of rising from the COVID-19 ashes, becoming more resilient and inclusive…No solo efforts”.

“A concerted effort is needed…Let us make good use of our great ideas and good resolutions and turn them into concrete actions,” she said.

Morsy said the Bank was supporting the efforts of its regional member countries to contain the coronavirus and address its economic fallout.

It also “recognize the scale and complexity of this task”, the director said, adding: “African countries would gain much by not working in silos to address the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. A concerted effort from all is needed”.

During the three-day meeting opened by Ethiopian President Sahlework Zewdie, African leaders, researchers, private sector discussed innovative solutions to ensure that the continent bounces back stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Participants rallied around a theme considered the most important and timely in the current crisis –Africa beyond COVID-19: Acceleration towards inclusive and sustainable development. The 2020 edition of the African Economic Conference was jointly organized by the African Development Bank, the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the UNDP.