Nearly half of jobs in Africa could be lost due to coronavirus, UN warns

The United Nations Development Programme has issued a call to action from the international community to assist developing countries with the enormous fallout they are expected to face due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The UNDP said in a statement that the international community has to think beyond the immediate impact of Covid-19. It expects that the crisis in developing countries threaten to devastate economies and increase inequality.

Nearly half of all jobs in Africa could be lost, the UNDP warns, and income losses are expected to exceed $220 billion in developing countries.

“Without support from the international community, we risk a massive reversal of gains made over the last two decades, and an entire generation lost, if not in lives then in rights, opportunities, and dignity,” Achim Steiner, administrator of the UNDP said in a statement.

“The growing Covid-19 crisis threatens to disproportionately hit developing countries, not only as a health crisis in the short term but as a devastating social and economic crisis over the months and years to come.”  

Three top priorities

The UNDP believes three priority actions are needed, namely resources to help stop the spread of the virus, support to respond during the outbreak itself, and resources to prevent the economic collapse of developing countries.

In the longer term, the UNDP said it will work with countries to assess the social and economic impacts of Covid-19 and take urgent recovery measures to minimise long-term impact, particularly for vulnerable and marginalised groups, and to help societies to recover better.

A UNDP-led Covid-19 Rapid Response Facility and anticipates a minimum of $500 million is need to support 100 countries.

On the weekend the Sunday Times reported that Finance Minister Tito Mboweni indicated that South Africa may approach the International Monetary Fund for the first time ever to help with funding to deal with the fallout from the coronavirus outbreak.

While the minister isn’t currently considering an emergency budget, he also advocates asking the World Bank and the New Development Bank for assistance, the newspaper said.

“In a conversation with the Reserve Bank and the Treasury I indicated that we should proceed and speak to the IMF and the World Bank about any facility that we can access for health purposes,” he said, according to the newspaper. “We take no ideological position.”

Bloomberg reported on the weekend that the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa predicts that Africa is two to three weeks away from the worst of the coronavirus storm and needs an emergency economic stimulus of $100 billion to bolster preventative measures and support its fragile healthcare systems.

Almost half of the funds could come from waiving interest payments to multilateral institutions. That would give countries the fiscal space needed to impose social-distancing measures, widen social safety nets and equip hospitals to treat the sick ahead of an expected surge in infections, UNECA executive secretary Vera Songwe said by phone from Washington.

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