Africa could lose 20 million jobs from coronavirus, says African Union. #AFP:

The pandemic of new coronavirus could have catastrophic consequences in Africa, such as for example the loss of 20 million jobs or the increase in debt, anticipates a study of the African Union published Monday.

“Nearly 20 million jobs, both in the formal and informal sectors, are threatened with destruction on the continent if the situation persists,” warns this study, which estimates that countries whose economy relies heavily on tourism or oil production are most at risk.

This 35-page document puts forward two scenarios, one described as “realistic” which predicts that the pandemic will last until July and that Africa “is not too affected”, and a “pessimist” lasting until August and in which the continent suffers more.

In both scenarios, economic growth in Africa would be negative, -0.8% and -1.1% respectively. Before the pandemic hit the continent, the African Development Bank (AfDB) expected growth of + 3.4% for 2020.

As of Monday, 9,198 cases of coronavirus and 414 deaths had been officially recorded in 51 African countries, according to the African Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

But if Africa has so far been less affected by the coronavirus than China, southern Europe and the United States, it is already suffering the economic consequences because of its trade links with these regions.

The African continent could see its imports and exports fall by 35%, or about 270 billion dollars (259 billion euros).

With the spread of the virus, the drop in oil prices should deeply affect countries like Nigeria and Angola, and restrictions on air transport could cost the tourism sector “at least $ 50 billion” and “at least minus 2 million direct and indirect jobs, “according to the study.

With the decline in income, African governments “will have no other option than to turn to international markets”, which could cause debt to skyrocket, she said.

Some African leaders have already anticipated this difficulty. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed asked the G20 in March to alleviate the debt of the most vulnerable economies and to prepare a $ 150 billion emergency financial assistance plan.

The study suggests that the African Union Commission “should conduct negotiations for an ambitious plan to cancel Africa’s total external debt”, estimated at $ 236 billion.

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Source: Reuters-VOA.

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