Africa

Côte d’Ivoire

Omicron shines spotlight on low vaccine coverage

The emergence of the Omicron strain of COVID-19 reinforces the need to boost vaccine coverage in Sub-Saharan Africa from current low levels. Most countries have administered at least one vaccine dose to less than 20% of their populations. The South African authorities’ initial response to the ‘Omicron threat’ was to urge the take-up of vaccines, rather than tightening containment measures. And so long as vaccine coverage is low, the risk of intermittent curbs on activity to relieve strains in health care sectors will linger with future virus waves and variants. Achieving such vaccine coverage will probably take some time even as Africa’s vaccine supplies – including from China and India – look set to increase over the coming quarters.

30 November 2021

Hope on vaccines, but still a long way to go

COVID-19 vaccine coverage remains pitifully low across much of Sub-Saharan Africa, with less than 10% of populations having received at least a first dose in most countries. But there are signs that things may be slowly turning a corner. The rate of vaccination has picked up in recent weeks and there are growing hopes that this trend will continue as the supply of vaccines to the continent improves. That said, there is still a long way to go to reach the high vaccine coverage achieved in other parts of the world. What’s more, even as supply improves, other hurdles such as logistical challenges and vaccine hesitancy may still hinder progress. In the meantime, the region will remain vulnerable to fresh virus outbreaks and the threat of tighter restrictions will continue to cast a cloud over the economic outlook.

28 October 2021

Headwinds beyond vaccine woes intensifying

Extremely low vaccine coverage continues to cast a dark cloud over recovery prospects in Sub-Saharan Africa and this will be compounded by deteriorations in the terms of trade and tighter fiscal policy. As a result, rebounds in most economies will lag behind other EMs. Sovereign debt risks look acute in Ethiopia and are growing in Ghana, while South Africa faces a slow-burning problem.

27 October 2021
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Debt restructuring talks inching forward

The threat of messy outcomes to Sub-Saharan Africa’s debt problems seems to have diminished recently. In Zambia, the new administration vowed to tackle debt problems and press on with restructuring talks under the G20’s Common Framework. And Ethiopia, another participant in the programme, held its first creditor meeting as a political crisis reignited debt concerns. Even so, debt restructuring negotiations will not be smooth sailing, especially following recent revelations that Zambia’s debt owed to China may be substantially larger than officially reported. And elsewhere, debt problems may come back to bite down the line. While immediate risks in South Africa and Ghana are low, policymakers will need to undertake large fiscal consolidation to stabilise public debt-to-GDP ratios.

Economic damage report from latest virus waves

The evidence from the latest COVID-19 waves sweeping through Sub-Saharan Africa point to a smaller economic blow compared to previous waves. Of course, there is a considerable degree of divergence, especially between countries imposing harsh restrictions – such as Uganda and Kenya – and those with more light-touch measures, like Nigeria or Ghana. Outside of South Africa, there is little sign that daily new cases are about to peak, suggesting that curbs to tame outbreaks will remain in place and continue to dampen activity. Worryingly, low vaccination rates across the region mean that economies will suffer under on-and-off restrictions with the emergence of any new virus waves.

Third wave fears grow

Worries about a third wave of COVID-19 in the region have intensified in the past month and the tightening of lockdown measures in some countries – most notably South Africa – will weigh on recoveries. As things stand, surges in cases appear concentrated in countries in the south of the continent; cases have trended down in many of the region’s other large economies (e.g. Nigeria, Ghana and Ethiopia). With vaccine rollouts progressing at a snail’s pace amid low supplies across the region, fresh virus outbreaks will remain a persistent threat to the outlook. The glimmer of hope is that global powers are looking to increase vaccine supplies and, perhaps most importantly, China could be in a position to flood the world with easily-deployable jabs later in the year.

Oil producers heading into deeper crises

The plunge in global oil prices has raised the risk of much steeper contractions in output in African oil producers, sharper currency falls, sovereign debt restructurings and problems at local banks.

Côte d’Ivoire: Election clouds robust growth outlook

Côte d’Ivoire’s upcoming elections in 2020 raise political risks facing the economy. But our core view is that the vote will pass peacefully, and that looser fiscal policy combined with more favourable external conditions will boost growth to 7.5% next year.

8 October 2019
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