COVID-19: WBG to assist African countries recover fast

The World Bank Group (WBG) will continue to support African governments’ efforts to ensure fast recovery from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Country Director for the World Bank, Pierre Laporte, has said.

He said the pandemic had seriously affected the global economy and the growth of African economies.

Speaking during the virtual celebration of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty-End Poverty Day 2020 yesterday, Mr Laporte said the WBG response in helping African countries combat COVID-19 and rebuild their economies had been focused on three stages and strategies.

They are the relief stage, which involves emergency response to the health, social, economic and financial impacts of the pandemic, the restructuring stage focusing on strengthening health systems for the pandemic readiness, restoring human capital and recapitalisation of firms and financial institutions.

The resilient recovery stage, Mr Laporte said emphasised on opportunities to build sustainable and resilient economies in a world transformed by the pandemic.

The programme on the theme “Charting the Road to a Resilient Recovery,” was used to launch the Blog4Dev 2021 to mobilise the youth to partner with the government to address the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and build a stronger economic system post-pandemic.

In Ghana, he said, they supported the country with $100 million through the WBG global emergency health programme to enable the country to procure personal protective equipment, recruited and trained health professionals on surveillance, detection, prevention and control of the pandemic.

Mr Laporte said the WB had funded a $2-million insurance package for frontline health workers and also financing the Ghana Productive Safety Net Project to support the vulnerable in society.

In a related development, the WBG said global extreme poverty was expected to rise in 2020 for the first time in over 20 years as the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic compounded the forces of conflict and climate change, which were already slowing poverty reduction progress.

The COVID-19 pandemic is estimated to push an additional 88 million to 115 million people into extreme poverty this year, with the total rising to as many as 150 million by 2021, depending on the severity of the economic contraction. 

Extreme poverty, defined as living on less than $1.90 a day, is likely to affect between 9.1 per cent and 9.4 per cent of the world’s population in 2020, according to the biennial Poverty and Shared Prosperity Report. 

That the report said would represent a regression to the rate of 9.2 per cent in 2017, adding that had the pandemic not convulsed the globe, the poverty rate was expected to drop to 7.9 per cent  in 2020.

“The pandemic and global recession may cause over 1.4 per cent of the world’s population to fall into extreme poverty,” said World Bank Group President David Malpass. 


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