Africa faces first recession in 25 years

The African continent has faced its first economic recession in 25 years due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) report.

The report, entitled “Building Forward for an African Green Recovery Report”, that was published late Monday highlighted the continent’s bold post-Covid-19 pandemic recovery strategy, reports Xinhua news agency.

The report findings revealed that the continent faced its first recession in 25 years, with output losses estimated to be $99 billion.

The impact of the pandemic is compounded by climate impacts on economic output projected to cause annual losses of between 3-5 per cent of the GDP by 2030 under a business-as-usual scenario, according to the report.

The report, among other things, seeks to bolster the continent’s valiant quest for the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), attainment of the Paris Agreement’s climate change targets and achievement of the prosperity objectives articulated in Africa’s 50-year development Agenda 2063.

The report called for the uptake of nature-based solutions at national, regional and continental levels to inspire policies that preserve global commons.

“For us to build back better, we need a lot of energy. The conversation in Africa is about substituting expensive bad fossil fuels with something that is cleaner and cheaper,” said Vera Songwe, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the UNECA.

“We have to replace fuel-based energies with green and sustainable ones,” Songwe emphasised.

Songwe noted that with the impact of Covid-19 and its associated economic contractions coupled with the debilitating impact of the climate crisis, Africa’s focus on recovery was even more essential.

According to the UNECA chief, there is an urgent need to roll out financial aid packages, investments in sustainable infrastructure and structure fiscal stimuli to cushion the expected transition into the green and blue economy.

The report seeks to galvanise support for Africa’s Green and Blue Economy strategies and mobilise resources to bolster the continent’s climate adaptation and mitigation measures in the wake of the pandemic.

For Africa to build back better, the report outlined the continental outlook of how collaborative partnerships bringing together development partners, multilateral agencies, private sector, international and non-governmental organisations can boost Africa’s green and blue livelihood recovery program.

Songwe further underscored the need for a “paradigm shift from resource-heavy and inefficient models of production and consumption that incentivise overexploitation, to models that are centred on sustainable use of resources and bring value throughout the production and consumption cycle as part of a circular green economy”.

The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in a recent report had also estimated that Covid-19 will drag African economies into a fall of about 1.4 per cent in GDP, with smaller economies facing contraction of up to 7.8 per cent.

The UNCTAD estimated a continental average of about 5 per cent in public revenue losses in Africa, with total merchandise exports contracting by about 17 per cent.