The full brunt of the pandemic has yet to be felt on the African continent. Even at this early stage, the COVID-19 crisis is taking a toll on African lives and economies, pushing the region into its first recession for 25 years. Recent estimates show that COVID-19 could push 40 to 60 million people globally into extreme poverty, 27 million of whom live in Sub-Saharan Africa. The immediate impacts are being felt the hardest in urban areas and in the informal sector, which employs around 80% of the population in low income countries.
The World Bank has taken fast action to help African countries strengthen their pandemic response and health care systems. Nearly a billion dollars for the immediate response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been approved and are reaching 42 countries in the region.
Over the next 15 months, the World Bank Group will be providing up to $160 billion in financing, tailored to the health, economic and social shocks countries are facing. This includes $50 billion of new concessional financing from the International Development Association (IDA) to support the health response, protect the poor and vulnerable, support businesses, and lay the ground for economic recovery with build-in debt relief for countries at risk of debt distress.
In Africa, the World Bank’s response is focused around three main areas: saving lives, protecting livelihoods and securing the future.