The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed an estimated 55 million Africans into poverty, with Ethiopia and Nigeria the major sources for the "new poor" created over the past two years, according to the annual economic report on Africa published by the UN. The report reveals that African governments spent 2.2 billion dollars on fiscal stimulus in 2020, with overall fiscal spending doubling to 3.3pc of gross domestic product (GDP). It warns the continent's debt-to-GDP ratio will remain above the 60pc threshold the IMF considers sustainable. Three African countries – Ethiopia, Chad and Zambia – have applied for debt relief under the G-20 common framework. There has yet to be a concrete decision on Ethiopia's request. Data obtained from the World Bank reveals interest and principal payments on external debt of 2.2 billion dollars are due in 2022. The situation is more daunting in the face of a costly war in the north, which the federal government says has caused 40 billion Br in losses due to a "decline in economic activity." The war in Ukraine is exacerbating challenges, with global prices for wheat, petroleum, cooking oil, and fertiliser spiking to record highs since fighting broke out in Eastern Europe earlier this year.
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