Sub-Saharan Africa's gross domestic product is expected to contract 1.6 percent this year, compared 3.1 percent growth last year, as the coronavirus pandemic wrecks the region's economies, the International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday.
Various African governments have imposed lockdowns and curfews to curb the spread of the coronavirus, but the restrictions are putting pressure on most economies — some of which were already in recession. The IMF said in its World Economic Outlook that GDP was projected to fall sharply in South Africa, the continent's most advanced economy. The country's GDP is projected to contract 5.8 percent in 2020 from the growth of 0.2 percent in 2019.
Recession in Sub-Saharan Africa: IMF
South Africa entered a recession in the final quarter of last year as power cuts by state utility Eskom took a toll on the economy, while public finances were strained by bailouts to struggling state firms. The country imposed some of the toughest restrictions on the continent to contain the coronavirus, including a five-week lockdown to the end of April. With production and spending curtailed, the economic outlook was set to remain grim.
The IMF also projected significant economic contractions in oil-exporting countries, with Nigeria's GDP forecast to fall 3.4 percent this year after growing 2.2 percent in 2019. Angola's economy was expected to remain in recession, contracting 1.4 percent in 2020. The IMF and the World Bank - which has also projected a recession for sub-Saharan Africa in 2020 - are racing to provide emergency funds to African countries and others to combat the coronavirus and mitigate the impact of sweeping shutdowns aiming at curbing its spread.