selassie2_JOHN WESSELSAFP via Getty Images_senegalcoronavirusworkershop John Wessels/AFP via Getty Images

Africa’s Hour of Need

African governments urgently need additional external financing to help them mitigate the pandemic's economic impact. And with global interest rates as low as they are now, it is hard to think of a more opportune time to make such a commitment to Africa – or a more important investment for our planet’s future.

WASHINGTON, DC – It is too soon to tell how heavy the human and health toll from COVID-19 will be in Sub-Saharan Africa. But the pandemic’s terrible economic impact on the region is already clear.

I have worked across Sub-Saharan Africa on and off since the early 1990s, and the scale of the economic challenge now unfolding is unlike any other during that time. The region’s expected economic contraction this year – with GDP set to shrink by at least 1.6%, and by 4% in per capita terms – will be its sharpest since at least 1970.

There are several reasons why this pandemic is such a potent threat to the region. For starters, previous African crises, such as those stemming from natural disasters and commodity-price slumps, have always had a differential impact on its economies. But no country will be spared from the economic fallout of the virus.

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