Sub-Saharan Africa is set to record the slowest economic growth of any world region this year, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Thursday.
Wealthy countries must step up to ease access to vital vaccines and make financing available to Africa, where the global health crisis and its economic fallout plunged 32 million people into extreme poverty last year, the Fund said.
“Really, how the international community can help the region is by improving access to vaccines,” Abebe Selassie, the head of the IMF’s Africa Department, told Reuters in an interview ahead of Thursday’s publication of the regional economic outlook for sub-Saharan Africa.
The continent has fallen behind much of the rest of the world in the vaccination race as countries with the financial means to reserve shots have cornered supplies.
Current trends indicate few African countries will be able to make vaccines widely available before 2023.
Selassie said mechanisms like the World Health Organisation-backed COVAX vaccine facility already exist to channel shots to countries in need.
“But these need to be matched with financing and investment to massively scale-up the global supply of vaccines as quickly as possible,” he said.
After shrinking by 1.9% last year – its worst contraction on record – sub-Saharan Africa’s regional economy will grow by 3.4% in 2021, according to the regional outlook. That’s well below a forecast for global growth of 5.5%.
Per capita output is not expected to return to 2019 levels until 2022.