While the covid-19 is a public health crisis, it has as well crippled the global economy and the financial markets.
The shutdowns and lockdowns across the globe caused economic meltdowns that have resulted in the low income generated by countries, unemployment especially from major disruptions in the hotel and travel industry.
Although the number of COVID-19 cases and fatalities appear comparatively low in Africa slightly over 150,000compared to the western regions like Europe, the pandemic implications on the economy of the African continent are more adverse than the latter.
Firstly, the health system in Kenya for instance was already stretched pre-pandemic and the pandemic as an addition meant stretching it further into an economic emergency. We have over 43 per cent of the population living in poverty, health challenges that include high maternal and child mortality and a high burden of infectious diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria which are already a burden to the economy.
The March 2020 lockdown further slowed down the budding economy. the short working hours from a 24-hour economy resulted to slow growth across all sectors.
Let’s look at some of the implications of the pandemic to the economy.
The COVID-19 pandemic heralded so many job losses across the globe. After the lockdowns, many companies could not afford to pay all the employees and especially informal workers were more at risk. and most were laid off. According to a report by WHO, nearly half of the world’s 3.3 billion global workforces are at risk of losing their livelihoods.
Lack of proper healthcare
Informal economy workers in particular are the most vulnerable when it comes to proper healthcare. Most of them with little income, they can only afford to fend for their families. The majority lack social protection and access to quality health care.
In countries where healthcare is expensive like in Kenya where its per capita expenditure on healthcare stands at $169 higher than the Netherlands which has the best healthcare means, only a few people can afford better health care.
As a result of job losses, a number of countries are reporting cases of food insecurity. There’s a rise in hunger in most regions due to the harsh economic climate.
The march 2020 lockdown in Kenya for example affected international trade globally which has led to a global food shortage and as countries embark on the recovery journey, food security is still a nightmare.
According to a world bank survey, numerous countries are experiencing high food price inflation even at the retail level, which reflects the supply disruptions due to COVID-19 social distancing measures, currency devaluations, and other factors.
The rising food prices continue to have a greater impact on people especially in and low- and middle-income countries which most African countries fall here.
The survey further says, covid-19 dramatically increased the number of people facing acute food insecurity compared to the pre-pandemic period.
The covid-19 crisis also opened for employment and labour issues especially for workers in the health care sector and all frontline workers during the pandemic period. Most of them would work for long hours without pay and with less adherence to workplace safety and health practices like the provision of protective PPEs and protective policies such as sick leave and proper working hours.
Nevertheless, The Covid-19 pandemic has laid bare existing inequalities in workplace exposure to health risks and economic insecurities.