An Ethiopian economist has pleaded the international community not to forget Africa in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Abdurezack Hussein, the political economist said the strategic location of Africa makes it an important player in the global economy.

“If ignored, it will create serious obstacles in the recovery of the global economy in the post-COVID-19 world,” he said.

African countries have so far reported more than 150,000 pandemic cases with more than 4,300 deaths, according to the data compiled by Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. As many as 63,661 people have recovered as well. 

Abdurezack, who teaches economics at Addis Ababa University said while the share of Africa in global trade may be limited, but it is the destination of sizeable merchandise trade and financial inflows.

“Protecting Addis Ababa is as important as protecting Brussels or Ankara,” he said while praising Turkey’s efforts to help African countries by sending sanitary and medical supplies.

Apprehending that the economic crisis resulted from the virus outbreak may trigger social and political unrest, he said instability will have a cascading effect on developed countries as well. They will lose demand for their products, he said.

The economist added that helping Africa at this juncture is important to control an inevitable political and economic instability that may sweep the continent and lead to a mass exodus.

“African economy is more vulnerable to the economic crisis in such unfortunate times than any other continent,” he said.

Pointing out that the informal sector is the backbone of employment generation especially in urban centers, the economist said the lack of insurance facility or other arrangements to protect this sector will further exacerbate the economic crisis in the continent.

Africa’s GDP target lowered

According to the African Union, the real GDP growth in 2020 was estimated to jump as much as 3.4% before the pandemic. But the revised estimates suggest an economic contraction by 1.1% after the virus outbreak.

Abdurezack said that this revision was due to the dependency of the African economy on the service sector, which has been hit hardest by the virus outbreak.

“The pandemic has affected all the economic sectors, however, there are some sectors more vulnerable like that the service sector and manufacturing,” he said.

In African countries, where cultural values associated with community gathering and face to face interactions, the pandemic has seen no ease up due to difficulty in enforcing a total lockdown.

The further outbreak has created an unbearable demand for health workers. Still, in Africa, there are just 30 health workers or a population of 10,000, according to African Health Stats, an official site for African health data.

Abdurezack said that the only cure to the global economy will is put to act together without ignoring Africa.

The continent is feared to see the wave of the outbreak in the early months of the summer season.

“The global interconnection will affect all. If Africa is not protected in one way or another the virus will be spread again,” he said.

According to the US-based Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center world has so far reported 6.3 million COVID-19 cases with 380,331 deaths.

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