Editorial: Global economy reeling under COVID-19

The stir caused and socio-economic effects of the COVID-19 epidemic on global economies are monumental, and that goes without saying. Many economists argue that the world could be saddled with a coronavirus recession.

Although President Donald Trump had threatened to defy scientific advice and re-open the American economy for activity soon, the Trump-led administration is reconsidering that option and is likely to postpone re-opening the United States economy from mid- to the end of April 2020.

Available data from the Africa Centre for Disease Control (2020), Shaban (2020) and Worldometers (2020) indicate that as of 29th March, 2020, the African continent had over 4,379 confirmed cases, 135 deaths, and 302 recoveries.

Thus far, Sao Tome and Principe (Central Africa); Botswana, Lesotho, Comoros Islands, and Malawi (Southern Africa); South Sudan and Burundi (East Africa); and Sierra Leone (West Africa) remain the only eight African countries which have not recorded cases related to the coronavirus pandemic.

While the rest of the world is struggling to come to terms with the coronavirus pandemic, and how to possibly contain and curb its further spread within and across countries, China seems to have recovered from the social shocks – and has already begun economic restructuring.

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China’s example is proof that with the right policies in place and adopting the right health protocols, the pandemic can be contained; and, currently, China is sharing its recovery success with countries like the USA and European countries that are afflicted.

Thankfully, Africa’s statistics are relatively low – but that gives no comfort or time for complacency, because unlike the more developed economies Africa’s health systems are weak and not adequately resourced to combat the pandemic in the swift manner that China managed to deal with its spread.

It is believed the effects of COVID-19 on the global economy will be more severe than the shocks associated with the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak of 2002. Effects of the coronavirus outbreak on the global supply chain have been projected to be in excess of US$300billion; and the disruption to global supply chain may last up to two (2) years.

Many were those who underestimated the propensity and magnitude of the coronavirus’s effects on social and business activities across the globe. The earlier global economic growth projection for 2020 by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) was 2.9%. Later, the OECD revised its global economic growth projection for the current fiscal year to 2.4%; and down further to 1.5%.

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These are indeed trying economic times for the global community, and the earlier the world can get a handle on COVID-19, the more likelihood there is it can avert the prospect of a recession.

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