UNITED Nations (UN) secretary-general Antonio Guterres has revealed that a sum of $200bn needs to be set aside to provide Africa with a post-coronavirus economic stimulus given the unprecedented damage the pandemic has caused to the continent.
With the global economic shutdown in response to the spread of the virus, Africa has been particularly hard hit as its economies do not have sufficient reserves to fall back on. Also, African economies are dependent on selling primary commodities to the rest of the world and with demand and prices collapsing, there is very little if any revenue coming in.
According to Mr Guterres, already, demand for Africa’s commodities, tourism and remittances are declining. There are now fears that the continent will suffer from widespread poverty, which could lead to social unrest and the UN is thus planning a kind of Marshall Plan, similar to that introduced in Europe after World War Two.
Officially known as the European Recovery Program, the Marshall Plan was an American initiative passed in 1948 for foreign aid to Western Europe. Under the programme, the US transferred over $12bn, equivalent to over $128bn as of 2020 to Western European economies to help them get over the ravages of war.
Mr Guterres said: “Coronavirus will aggravate long-standing inequalities and heighten hunger, malnutrition and vulnerability to disease. The opening of the trade zone had been pushed back and millions could be pushed into extreme poverty.”
Already, the UN has inaugurated a policy brief, calling for international action to strengthen Africa’s health systems, maintain food supplies and avoid a financial crisis. Mr Guterres added that African countries should have equal access to any vaccine and treatment and that they must halt conflicts and address violent extremism.
According to Mr Guterres, Africa should receive $200bn from the international community as part of his call for a global response package amounting to at least 10% of the world’s gross domestic product. It is not yet clear which nations will bankroll the scheme, however, as many industrialised nations are also in recession.
Mr Guterres added: “These are still early days for the pandemic in Africa and disruption could escalate quickly. Global solidarity with Africa is an imperative now and for recovering better.”