WASHINGTON, April 9, 2020—Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa has been significantly impacted by the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and is forecast to fall sharply from 2.4% in 2019 to -2.1 to -5.1% in 2020, the first recession in the region over the past 25 years, according to the latest Africa’s Pulse, the World Bank’s twice-yearly economic update for the region.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is testing the limits of societies and economies across the world, and African countries are likely to be hit particularly hard,” said Hafez Ghanem, World Bank Vice President for Africa. “We are rallying all possible resources to help countries meet people’s immediate health and survival needs while also safeguarding livelihoods and jobs in the longer term – including calling for a standstill on official bilateral debt service payments which would free up funds for strengthening health systems to deal with COVID 19 and save lives, social safety nets to save livelihoods and help workers who lose jobs, support to small and medium enterprises, and food security.”
Can Africa feed Africa? This question is frequently asked, especially when there are 256 million people (1 in 5) in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) who are critically undernourished. And the numbers are growing. Escalating weather volatility due to climate change further exacerbate food and nutrition insecurity. Frequent droughts and floods are triggering a food crisis in at least one or more countries every year, demanding emergency responses.
We’re thrilled to release five new data notes in collaboration with the International Finance Corporation and Mastercard Foundation Partnership for Financial Inclusion outlining Sub-Saharan Africa’s successes and challenges in building digital financial inclusion. The notes—all of which are available for download at our homepage—draw on tens of thousands of surveys to explore how adults in the region use accounts, digital payments, and savings to manage their financial lives.
Sub-Saharan Africa leads one of the most exciting development innovations of our time—the rise of mobile money. Our first note explains how this technology can expand the use of financial services and describes how it has spread over time.
For over 140 years, Elsevier has supported more than 1,000,000 global scientific and academic communities in their pursuit for new and verified scientific knowledge through access to peer-reviewed content, strategic research management tools, and capacity-building activities that promote and celebrate world-class science.
Over the last 12 years, Elsevier has closely collaborated with partners such as the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the Dutch Organization for Internationalization in Education (NUFFIC) to support activities in emerging economies to enhance higher education and research, develop better science and technology, and improve local competitiveness. These efforts have allowed Elsevier and, specifically, the World Bank, to co-launch several regional and country initiatives and research metrics and evidence to contribute to promotion of discussions on research investment and collaboration.
For African cities to grow economically as they have grown in size, they must create productive environments to attract investments, increase economic efficiency, and create livable environments that prevent urban costs from rising with increased population densification. What are the central obstacles that prevent African cities and towns from becoming sustainable engines of economic growth and prosperity? Among the most critical factors that limit the growth and livability of urban areas are land markets, investments in public infrastructure and assets, and the institutions to enable both. To unleash the potential of African cities and towns for delivering services and employment in a livable and environmentally friendly environment, a sequenced approach is needed to reform institutions and policies and to target infrastructure investments. This book lays out three foundations that need fixing to guide cities and towns throughout Sub-Saharan Africa on their way to productivity and livability.
Sub-Saharan Africa knows more than its fair share of disasters induced by natural hazards. The past few months alone have seen drought in the Horn of Africa, floods in Mali and Rwanda, and landslides in Ethiopia and Uganda. Between 2005 and 2015, the region experienced an average of 157 disasters per year, claiming the lives of roughly 10,000 people annually.
Disasters can have a debilitating impact on countries’ growth and development prospects. Losses from disasters are only expected to rise as the impacts of climate change intensify across the region. Given these challenges, governments have often been reliant on external aid and budget reallocation to pay for disaster recovery. However, this financing strategy comes at a cost. Uncertainty and delays in aid flows tend to complicate planning for relief and recovery efforts, and budget reallocations can divert funding from vital development programs.
The landscape of extreme poverty is now split in two. While most of the world has seen extreme poverty fall to below 3 percent of the population, Sub-Saharan Africa is experiencing extreme poverty rates affecting more than 40 percent of people. The lamentable distinction of being home to the most people living in extreme poverty has shifted, or will soon shift, from India to Nigeria, symbolizing the increased concentration of poverty in Africa.
A billion people still live without electricity, but certain countries are starting to adopt new approaches to expand electricity services – reaching millions of people in the past few years.
The number of people gaining access to electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa has begun to outstrip population growth for the first time. In South Asia, progress has been even faster.
Much more work will be needed to achieve universal electrification by 2030, as called for in SDG7. The World Bank is significantly ramping up financing for energy access programs, with support for mini-grid and off-grid projects growing the fastest.