Delta threat building

The highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 seems to be dominant now across much of Sub-Saharan Africa and is driving new waves in many of the large economies. South Africa appears to be over the worst of its latest outbreak, although it now has to contend with the legacy of violence and unrest earlier this month. Elsewhere, cases are rising quickly and could dampen recoveries. Extremely low vaccine coverage makes the region particularly vulnerable to this variant and potential future ones. Even in South Africa, where the rollout is quick by regional standards, at the current pace it would take a year for vaccine coverage to reach the levels offering protection against new variants seen in DMs.
William Jackson Chief Emerging Markets Economist
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Africa Economics Weekly

Vaccine tides turning in SSA? Evergrande reverberations

This week brought the prospect of an improvement in Sub-Saharan Africa’s vaccine supplies, but the region is still likely to struggle to catch up with the rest of the world in the global vaccination race. Meanwhile, although we expect the fallout from the Evergrande saga to be limited, the region’s metal producers like South Africa are exposed to weakness in China’s property sector. Finally, there has been some momentum towards a debt restructuring deal for Ethiopia, but this will probably be difficult to thrash out.

24 September 2021

Africa Economics Update

SARB to keep loose policy stance to bolster recovery

Policymakers in South Africa kept their benchmark rate unchanged at 3.50% today and concerns about lasting economic damage from the pandemic and recent unrest appear to be growing. Against a backdrop of a sluggish recovery and weak inflation, we think the repo rate will stay on hold until well into 2022.

23 September 2021

Africa Data Response

South Africa Consumer Prices (Aug.)

South Africa’s headline inflation rate picked up to 4.9% y/y in August but the temporary factors behind the rise are unlikely to worry policymakers. Subdued core price pressures and the slow economic recovery mean that we expect the Reserve Bank to keep rates on hold on Thursday and well into 2022.

22 September 2021

More from William Jackson

Middle East Chart Book

OPEC+ agreement provides a boost to Gulf recoveries

The end of the impasse within OPEC+ this month will result in higher oil output and boost recoveries in the Gulf over the second half of this year and in 2022. Output quotas will rise by 400,000bpd each month after the UAE backed down in return for having its baseline production raised from next year. More supply on the market is likely to weigh on oil prices, but we think that the impact on Gulf oil export revenues will be more than offset by rising production volumes. As a result, budget and account positions in the Gulf will improve, providing policymakers with a small window to loosen fiscal policy and support recoveries in the region’s non-oil sectors.

28 July 2021

Emerging Europe Chart Book

Activity rebounding as economies re-open

The region’s economies have continued to rebound strongly over the past month as virus outbreaks have largely been contained and restrictions have been lifted. Surveys of sentiment in the services sector have surged and high-frequency mobility data have risen far above pre-pandemic levels. Turkey’s recovery seems to have been particularly rapid since the end of its lockdown in May. Admittedly, there are reasons to be cautious. Israel’s re-opening boost seems to be fading, the Czech auto sector has been hampered by shortages of inputs and the highly transmissible Delta variant has now become the dominant strain in most places. But vaccine coverage is generally high and we think recoveries will make further headway in Q3.

28 July 2021

Latin America Chart Book

Q3 looking brighter

While the regional economic recovery stuttered in Q2, it appears to be gathering pace in Q3. New COVID-19 cases have dropped back, particularly in Chile and Uruguay suggesting that their rapid vaccination programmes are proving effective. Restrictions have been eased across Latin America which is reflected in the improvement in the latest high-frequency data. Mexico is the key exception to this trend. It is currently in the midst of a Delta-induced third wave, which provides a warning sign to other countries with similarly low vaccination coverage. But, for now, the positive developments in much of Latin America reinforce our view that the near-term economic outlook for the region is not as bad as many think.

27 July 2021
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