Risk and Resilience: How East Africa could bounce back from the COVID-19 Pandemic

By Andrew Mold, Head of Regional Integration and the AfCFTA, Economic Commission for Africa, Office for Eastern Africa, Kigali, Rwanda


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


 

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Nairobi, Kenya: Skyline cleared as pollution has slowed down during lockdown due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, April 2020. Photo: Youssef Abu Aly/Shutterstock

A hitherto rapidly growing but vulnerable region

The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. Prior to the announcement of a global pandemic on 11th March by WHO, our office was about to a release a report which spoke of the fairly rosy prospects for East Africa in 2020, after a decade of solid growth. That report recognised the persistence of serious developmental challenges but highlighted major improvements not just in economic growth (the region has been the fastest growing sub-region in Africa since 2014), but also in human development. One simple statistical illustration of this – life expectancy over the last decade has risen by an unprecedented 6.7 years on average.

Just a few months later we are now presented with a quite different panorama, both for the global economy and East Africa. For the region, 2020 – and quite possibly 2021 – is no longer going to be characterised by a continued economic dynamism, but rather a sluggish economic malaise, as countries wrestle with ballooning fiscal deficits, deteriorating trade balances, and a serious disruption to normal economic activity.    Continue reading