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The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has said that a full one-month lockdown across Africa will cost the continent about $65.7billion.
This is about 2.5% of Africa’s annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The report which is titled “COVID-19: Lockdown Exit Strategies for Africa” said that this is “in addition to the wider external shock of lower commodity prices and investment flows.”
The report showed that businesses surveyed by ECA were operating at an average of 43% capacity between April 14 and April 20. Larger firms were operating at a capacity a little higher.
The report said the sub-sectors operating at the lowest capacities are manufacturing, health, entertainment, utilities, transport, and trade.
As of April 30, about 42 African countries had announced localised or national lockdowns. The report found that 38 of these lockdowns had already been in place for at least 21 days, it found.
The lockdown brought a lot of sectors to a standstill or reduced productivity. The report said that companies on the continent complained of a lack of operational cash flow as well as the reduction of opportunities to meet new customers among others.
Some companies also stated that their businesses were closed, in addition to a decline in workers’ productivity from working at home.
During an online debate to launch the report, the ECA’s Executive Secretary, Vera Songwe, said governments all over the world have the challenge to develop appropriate exit strategies to come out of COVID-19 lockdown measures.
She explained that any exit strategy created would have to take into consideration the preservation of lives while alleviating economic challenges and continuing to suppress the spread of the virus.
In Ghana, the government lifted a 21-day lockdown on April 20. The Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta later explained that the country’s largely informal sector could not support a partial lockdown on Accra, Tema, Kasoa, and Kumasi beyond the three weeks period announced by President Akufo-Addo.
The president announced subsidies on electricity and water consumption by households and businesses for three months (April to June) at a cost of GHC1.3bn.
The government has also made available GHC600m as soft loans to small and medium-sized businesses.