Governments across the Sub-Saharan African region should embark on a realignment of economic policies to boost recovery from COVID-19 disruptions and strengthen resilience against future shocks, experts said on Monday.
The policymakers and experts who spoke at a virtual briefing in Nairobi said that the enactment of new economic policies was long overdue to enable countries to survive a recession linked to the pandemic.
“We must build a solid macro-economic policy environment, protect local investments and strengthen intra-African trade as we embark on a post-COVID recovery path,” said Njuguna Ndung’u, executive director of Nairobi-based think tank, the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC).
The forum, organized by the think tank which was attended by senior government officials and scholars in Nairobi, discussed policy options that could be adopted to boost economic recovery after months of downturn occasioned by the global pandemic.
Ndung’u said the continent could still weather COVID-19 related economic shocks if governments took bold actions like channeling stimulus packages to hard-hit sectors including hospitality, tourism and manufacturing.
“Some of the best practices that have worked elsewhere could be applied in the African context to boost recovery. They include capital injection to the private sector and investments in public infrastructure to lower the cost of doing business,” said Ndung’u, a former governor of the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK).
African economies have suffered from supply chain disruptions linked to COVID-19 and Sub-Saharan Africa’s economy is expected to shrink by 3.2 percent in 2020.
Betty Maina, Kenya‘s Cabinet Secretary for Trade and Industry said that reimaging African economies and businesses should inform efforts to hasten recovery and create new job opportunities.
“There is an opportunity to establish a new post-COVID-19 economic order that guarantees a better income for households, foster innovation, competitiveness and growth,” said Maina.
But leadership and foresight are required to accelerate this recovery through promoting local manufacturing, intra-African trade and formalization of small and medium-sized enterprises,” she added.
Maina said that strengthening the resilience of local supply chains combined with less reliance on foreign imports is key to accelerate post-COVID-19 economic recovery in Africa.