Countries across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region are witnessing a divergence in vaccine deployment and a number of these countries will not be able to roll-out vaccines before 2023, said Jihad Azour the Director of the Middle East and Central Asia Department at the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Azour made his comments during a fireside discussion held virtually on Wednesday and organised by The Brookings Doha Center to discuss the post-COVID-19 economic outlook for the MENA region.
Azour noted that new developments in the pandemic require accelerating vaccination efforts, setting new policies and counting takeaways from the ongoing crisis.
“Uncertainty, the significant transformation of the global economy, and the risk of inflation hikes that could be reflected in global interest rates are the key features of the current phase. Countries with the financial space have the ability to navigate the ongoing challenges with minimal loss, while countries that do not have this space need to rearrange their spending priorities. This action will make the public spending in these countries more feasible, especially with regard to these vulnerabilities," Azour said.
Azour revealed that the IMF extended financing with a total of $17 billion in 2020 to the MENA region’s countries to address COVID-19 and its repercussions, 65 percent higher than the total the IMF provided to the region in 2019, adding that this is a record level of IMF financial support.
He also noted that the region needs significant investments to accelerate its growth and recovery process, adding that governments should play a key role in creating the environment for the private sector, and embrace other foreign and local partners.
Azour asserted the importance of regional cooperation within the MENA to navigate the ongoing crisis and address its severe impacts.