Ms. Vera Songwe, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has revealed that between 49 million and 161 million Africans may have fallen under the poverty line due to the adverse effects of the pandemic on the continent.
Ms. Songwe made this known at the 53rd ministerial session of the ECA Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development holding in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Songwe arrived at the figure based on the growth elasticity of poverty change approach, and with economic growth contractions of 1.8–5.4 percent in 2020, among other indicators.
According to the ECA boss, poverty in Africa is both extensive and deep.
She also noted that one billion Africans, representing more than 80 percent of the total population, have a mean consumption rate of less than $5.50 per day, citing the fact that two-thirds of Africans reside in countries with a consumption of less than $1.90 a day.
“Globally, social assistance spending ranges from $6.1 billion in Africa to $290 billion in North America.
“On a per-capita basis, the 30 countries in Africa, for which data is available, spend only USD10 per-capita on social protection, against USD361 per-capita in East Asia and the Pacific and USD442 per-capita in North America,” Songwe posited.
In the same vein, Ghana’s Finance Minister, Ofori-Atta has warned that African economies are contracting, and a sharp increase in infections is overwhelming health systems.
According to him, “Africa’s GDP contracted by 2.1 percent (African Economic Outlook 2021) compared to a 3.5 percent contraction in global GDP (World Bank).
“However, the second wave has depleted our buffers, our economies are contracting, and we are witnessing sharp increases in infections and deaths. These developments are overwhelming our health systems”.
Similarly, during his presentation, Ethiopian Prime Minister Ahmed said amidst rapid global technological and environmental shifts and a new normal introduced by COVID-19, African leaders are tasked with developing innovative responses.
Mr. Ahmed reiterated that innovations are needed to respond to the livelihood needs and prosperity aspirations of a growing youth population, particularly, one year later into the COVID-19.
“Africa has demonstrated it is not only capable of facing this crisis, but it is also ready to help formulate and implement solutions.
“Africa was in a race to embrace economic diversification, the fourth industrial revolution, and digitalisation in a sustainable and inclusive way.
“COVID-19 came to test our readiness and our resilience. From the crisis, we have not only demonstrated Africa’s readiness to confront challenges, but also Africa’s steadfast commitment to focusing on growth through innovation resilience.
“From the crisis, we have not only demonstrated Africa’s readiness to confront challenges but also Africa’s innovation,” he said.