The per capita incomes of many African countries are not expected to restore their pre-pandemic levels before 2025, as the consequences of the ongoing crisis are likely to be long lasting, said Domitien Ndihokubwayo, the chairman of the African Caucus.
Ndihokubwayo made his comments during the African Consultative Group meeting held on Thursday in the attendance of the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, as part of the preparations of the IMF and World Bank Group spring meetings, scheduled to kick off officially on Monday.
North Africa, where Egypt is located, is expected to grow faster than other regions in Africa, driven by an upward trend in oil exports and earlier inoculators, while Sub-Saharan Africa’s recovery is expected to be much slower amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Ndihokubwayo.
He said that transformative policies are needed to strengthen Africa’s recovery from COVID-19 and facilitate its transition to a more resilient, green, and inclusive growth path.
During the meeting, Ndihokubwayo stressed that the key priority for Africa remains to significantly scale up vaccine production capacity and accelerate vaccine rollout, including by adequately funding COVAX to provide expedited vaccine coverage to exceed the original goal of covering 20 percent of the population by the end of 2020.
“It is also essential to prioritise policies to help protect livelihoods and vulnerable groups, and address education gaps that have deepened due to school closures through appropriately calibrated and targeted fiscal and liquidity support,” Ndihokubwayo urged.
He illustrated that Africa remains gripped by the COVID-19 health emergency which triggered its worst economic shock in decades and saw millions of people fall into poverty.
Credible and well-calibrated medium-term fiscal frameworks can contribute to rebuilding fiscal space and addressing debt vulnerabilities in the continent, according to Ndihokubwayo.
“This will require boosting domestic revenue mobilisation, improving the efficiency of spending including through stronger governance and public finance management systems. Enhancing human capital and strengthening the business climate would spur productivity and attract private investment, so would advancing trade and integration through implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement,” he added.
He noted that boosting investment in digital technologies and climate resilient infrastructure will also be key to generate jobs for Africa’s young and growing workforce.
“Safely exiting the crisis and returning Africa to its pre-crisis convergence path requires carefully-calibrated domestic policies and stronger support from the international community,” he said.
He highlighted that substantial additional financing would be required in order for Africa to meet its key development objectives, calling on the international community to step up its support to Africa to be able to navigate the pandemic and unleash its vast potential, including its reservoir of young talent.
Georgieva reviewed the IMF's efforts to help African countries in 2020 amid the first wave of the pandemic, including rapid and substantial financial assistance.
“The IMF is firmly committed to supporting the authorities’ steps towards ending the crisis and returning to a desirable development path,” she stressed.
The African Consultative Group comprises the Fund Governors of a subset of 12 African countries belonging to the African Caucus and the IMF management.
It was formed in 2007 to enhance the IMF’s policy dialogue with the African Caucus. The group meets around the time of the spring meetings, while Ithe MF management meets with the full membership of the African Caucus at the time of the annual meetings.