Addis Abeba – A new report by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) raises the alarm on the risk of a rise in mortality of diseases not related to Ebola, as well as the wider impacts of the virus on the livelihoods of those affected. Educational systems, rising social stigma, unemployment, and decreased food security are some of the big issues that Ebola-affected countries must deal with, according to the report.
Speaking at the launch of the new Report on the Socio-Economic Impacts of the Ebola Virus Disease on Africa, ECA Executive Secretary Carlos Lopes has called on the international community to consider debt cancellation for Ebola-affected countries as this would create the right conditions for recovery in their post-crisis phase.
“The impacts on affected countries are severe,” the report said, “Most are driven by aversion behavior, including increased labor absenteeism and reduced economic interaction owing to a fear of contracting the disease.”
According to the report the crisis and economic downturn are influencing investment and capital flows. In the public sector, implementations of large-scale projects have been affected, both from a labor perspective and from financial incapacity to meet costs owing to curtailed public revenue. In turn, this is cooling the economy and feeding back into the downturn, possibly deterring foreign investment, reducing the country’s stock of financial capital, increasing risk ratings and affecting monetary and fiscal stability.
“We have life with Ebola; and in the aftermath of these countries in crisis, debt cancellation would allow the countries to start from a clean slate from a macroeconomic dimension.” Lopes said, adding, this would be essential, given all they are going through right now in relation to all the deviations of public expenditure that were provoked by the response needs.
The size of the 3 economies is so small and “the impact would be reduced to 0.05% in terms of overall GDP on the Continent.” Yet, “the impact on perception can be much higher than the real GDP as it affects a number of decisions related to investment, tourism and travel,” according to Lopes.
The report explores the impact of the 13, 241 cases identified and 4 950 deaths reported in the region since the outbreak earlier this year. Lopes has called for a careful and cautious approach to the response and notes that while the social and economic situation in the three most affected countries is dramatic, the Continent will have to deal with the impact on perceptions.
The study is based on ground research by ECA staff and relies on consultation with the national authorities who have had the opportunity to tell their own story.