Our Programmes



Sign up to our newsletter.

Follow ODI

Financing the coronavirus response in sub-Saharan Africa

Working paper

Written by Mark Miller, Francesca Bastagli, Tom Hart, Sherillyn Raga, Shakira Mustapha, Annalisa Prizzon, Dirk Willem te Velde, Phyllis Papadavid

Hero image description: This illustration, created at the CDC, reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses Image credit:Alissa Eckert, MS/Dan Higgins, MAMS Image license:No restrictions

The coronavirus pandemic is wreaking havoc on health and livelihoods around the world. Although people are at risk of infection irrespective of their income, class, ethnicity or age, the impacts of the pandemic are likely to be acutely felt in sub-Saharan Africa. As well as health impacts, there are fears that African countries will face considerable hardship and potentially a catastrophe for jobs and livelihoods.

Key messages

  • The health impacts of the coronavirus in sub-Saharan Africa remain highly uncertain, but the costs to livelihoods will undoubtedly be great. Estimates of economic impacts vary, but are in the order of at least $100 billion.
  • Many African governments have been quick to put in place stringent measures aimed at containing the spread of the virus. Economic and social protection measures have lagged behind as policy-makers face major liquidity and fiscal constraints.
  • African governments should not have to bear sole responsibility for financing the response to the crisis. Much of the global economic dislocation stems from decisions to protect citizens in richer countries, and international solidarity is required in the response. Successful containment of the virus also calls for a global response.
  • A number of financing proposals are on the table and need to be delivered on. Special drawing rights should be increased to help plug gaps from capital outflows, and international actors should agree to a moratorium on debt service repayments and look to coordinate a voluntary standstill on interest payments on bonds.
  • Multilateral development banks can expand their non-concessional lending to the region by $68 billion, and bilateral donors should commit to allocating 0.7% of their economic resource packages as aid to poorer countries. Development finance institutions can provide liquidity to protect private sector jobs.

Mark Miller, Francesca Bastagli, Tom Hart, Sherillyn Raga, Shakira Mustapha, Phyllis Papadavid, Annalisa Prizzon and Dirk Willem te Velde

Correction published 17 April 2020
Errors corrected: Figure 3 y-axis label from US$ billions to US$ millions; Box 1 source removed; Acknowledgements – Vidya Dawakar to Vidya Diwakar. 

Original published 14 April 2020