A $290 Billion Funding Shortfall Is Slowing Africa’s Revival

Sub-Saharan Africa needs significant additional funding to counter damage wrought by the coronavirus pandemic, bolster its economic recovery prospects and mitigate threats posed by climate change, according to the World Bank, Bloomberg News reported. The regional economy is expected to grow 3.3% in 2021, after contracting by an estimated 2% last year, the Washington-based lender said Wednesday in its latest Africa Pulse report. It raised its gross domestic product forecast by one percentage point from its April report, largely due to better-than-expected commodity prices. Still, economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa will lag behind that of rich countries due the slow rollout of Covid-19 vaccines, which leaves it vulnerable to new waves of infection, and fiscal constraints that weigh on stimulus measures, it said. Africa is the world’s least-inoculated region with only 4.3% of its 1.2 billion people fully immunized against the disease, Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention data show. Budget support to people and businesses in the region has amounted to 2.8% of GDP since January last year, compared with 17% of GDP in advanced economies, according to the Africa Pulse report. That’s because fiscal constraints that pre-dated the virus left African countries unable to provide adequate stimulus measures to engineer a sustained recovery that delivers jobs and addresses the health and economic needs brought about by the pandemic, it said. It estimated the funding gap at $290 billion in 2020. Read more.