BY BUKOLA IDOWU |
Nigeria and four other African countries released $43.4billion as bailout funds to assist their respective citizenry and businesses cope with the ripple effects of COVID-19 pandemic on economies across the continent in 2020, LEADERSHIP can now reveal.
The other four countries are South Africa, Egypt, Ghana and Morocco.They also released bailout funds to their citizenry in a move to curb inflation, avoid closure of businesses and make living easier for Africans.
Latest data from Centre for Disease Control in Africa (Africa CDC) puts the infection rate in the five countries at 2,544,864 and deaths at 78,251 with South Africa recording the highest rate of infections and deaths.
To this end, South Africa, with a population of about 60 million, released $26 billion as stimulus package, making it the country with the highest stimulus package in Africa. The stimulus released, according to by findings by LEADERSHIP, translates to 10 per cent of South Africa’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP).
To battle the effects of the pandemic on its economy, South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa announced the $26 billion stimulus.
He said, “The scale of this emergency relief programme is historic. It demonstrates that we will not spare any effort, or any expense, in our determination to support our people and protect them from harm. We will — and we must — do whatever it takes to recover from this human, social and economic crisis.”
Nigeria with a population of over 200 million came second, having pumped $8.5 billion into its economy last year, a development that was able to douse the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the nation’s economy. Nigeria was the eight most affected country by the pandemic on the continent, recording 164,233 infections and 2,062 deaths so far.
President Muhammadu Buhari announced the stimulus plan to boost significant sectors of the economy. The package provided support to the three groups that bore most of the brunt from the crisis – healthcare industry, small and medium-scale businesses (SMEs) and the vulnerable.
Egypt, which is the fifth most affected country on the continent, pumped the third highest amount into its economy. The country which has a population of over 100 million put in $6.4 billion to allay the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The death toll in the country was the second highest at 12,738 deaths from 216,334 infections.
Last year, the Egyptian finance minister, Mohamed Maait, mentioned the plans of the government to dole out a new stimulus in addition to what it had already earmarked if there was a second wave of the pandemic in the country.
Ghana, with population of 31 million, pumped $1.7 billion into its economy as a COVID-19 relief fund. With 91,709 infections and 771 deaths, the country barely made it to the top 10 countries on the continent affected by the pandemic.
Morocco’s King, Mohammed VI, ordered the creation of a special public-private wealth fund worth at least $1 billion to mitigate the social and economic effects of the COVID-19 on its economy. The North African country, with a population of 36 million, is the second country most affected by the pandemic. So far, it has recorded 505,811 infections and 8,945 deaths since it was hit by the pandemic.
All over the world, governments have taken forceful measures to cushion the blow, totalling a staggering $12 trillion globally.
According to economists at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, governments have focused on doing whatever it takes to limit its consequences. The massive fiscal support provided since the start of the COVID-19 crisis has succeeded in protecting people and preserving jobs, IMF pointed out.
Similarly, central banks of European Union, the United States of America and four other countries printed a cumulative amount of $7trillion in 2020 in response to COVID-19 pandemic, a study by an online medium, the Cable has shown.
The other countries in the study included the United Kingdom, India, Ghana and South Africa.