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COVID-19: Lockdown to cost Africa about $65.7 billion per month – ECA

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ECONOMIC Commission for Africa (ECA) estimates that a full one-month lockdown across Africa would cost the continent about 2.5 per cent of its annual GDP, an equivalent of $65.7 billion per month.

This is separate from the wider external impact of COVID-19 on Africa which includes lower commodity prices and slow investment flows, the commission stated.

ECA has released a new report proposing to African nations various COVID-19 exit strategies, following the imposition of lockdowns that helped suppress the virus but with devastating economic consequences.

At least 42 African countries applied partial or full lockdowns in their quest to curtail the pandemic.

According to the Commission, the lockdowns caused serious challenges for African countries, including a drop in demand for products and services, lack of operational cash flow, reduction of opportunities to meet new customers.

There are also issues with changing business strategies and offering alternative products and services, a decline in worker production and productivity from working at home.

Others are logistics and shipping of products and difficulties in obtaining supplies of raw materials essential for production.

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The commission has proposed seven lockdown exit strategies which include improving testing, lockdown until preventive or remedy medicines are developed, contact tracing and mass testing, immunity permits, gradual segmented reopening, adaptive triggering and mitigation.

Companies surveyed by the ECA reported to be operating at only 43 per cent, 70 per cent of slum dwellers report that they are missing meals or eating less as a result of COVID-19.

The spread of the virus is still accelerating in many African countries on average at 30 per cent every week, the commission revealed.

The report urges African nations to take advantage of their situation.

This may be an opportunity to learn from the experiences of other regions and their experiments in reopening.

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