The West African sub-region suffered an economic downturn in 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, a top official said.
Unlike the average growth of 3.5 per cent in its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) before 2020, the sub-region recorded a 2.0-per cent contraction last year due to the pandemic, said Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission.
He said that the private sector was severely hit by the pandemic and many countries had to bail out various sectors to avoid their collapse.
“We are hoping for a turnaround in 2021, but any projection for economic growth this year is dependent on the success of the ongoing vaccination programs in almost all member countries,” he added.
Brou expressed optimism that vaccine programs would help contain the pandemic in the sub-region to make way for the normalisation of socio-economic activities, the Xinhua news agency reported.
Going forward, he said, the West African Health Organization, the specialised health institution of the sub-region, would work with the health ministers of all member countries to strengthen their health systems, train more health personnel, put in mechanisms for early detection of threats, and deal with these threats effectively.
“We also need to invest in research such that we can discover vaccines here and develop these vaccines and produce them. Although individual countries can do these on their own, it becomes more effective when we do them collectively, because viruses know no borders,” he added.