Africa

Uganda

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

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

Pandemic not in the rear-view mirror for some time

The economic damage from the latest COVID-19 waves across Sub-Saharan Africa appears to be smaller compared to previous waves, but low vaccination rates mean that officials will have to keep containment measures in place for longer than elsewhere. This will hold back recoveries and prevent international travellers from returning quickly – a particular problem or countries like Kenya and Namibia.

1 September 2021
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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.

Lagging behind

Vaccination campaigns across Sub-Saharan Africa will continue to struggle, leaving the region vulnerable to renewed virus outbreaks. This, combined with tight fiscal policy, a slow return of tourists and falls in commodity prices means that economic recoveries will lag behind those in other parts of the world. GDP across most of the region is likely to stay well below its pre-crisis path over 2021-23.

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.

Uganda: large CA deficit points to slowdown ahead

Uganda’s balance of payments position is looking increasingly unsustainable. The currency is likely to weaken and domestic demand is set to slow. We think that GDP growth will be a lot weaker than most currently expect over the coming years.

11 September 2019

Uganda: Policy tightening to add headwinds to growth

The Bank of Uganda will probably buck the regional trend next year by tightening policy further in response to a widening current account deficit. This will add to headwinds for economic growth.

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