IMF says Ebola hits economic growth in W. Africa - CNBC Africa

IMF says Ebola hits economic growth in W. Africa

Western Africa

by Reuters 0

Economic growth in Sierra Leone could fall to eight per cent. PHOTOS: Sofia Globe and NBC News

This as the worst-ever outbreak of Ebola crippled the key mining, agriculture and services sectors in the two West African countries.

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Growth in Guinea, where industrial mining has been unaffected so far, could fall by about 1.5 percentage points, said Bill Murray, spokesman at the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

“Particularly in the cases of Sierra Leone and Liberia, the largest sectors of these already fragile economies ... are being affected,” Murray said. “This is in turn engendering significant financing gaps for the fiscal and external accounts of these two countries, and triggering higher inflation.”

He said the crisis has exposed financing gaps totalling 100 million dollars to 130 million dollars in each of the three countries, and that the IMF is working with authorities to figure out additional funding. All three countries are already getting IMF loans under programs that predate the Ebola outbreak.

The IMF said economic growth in Sierra Leone is likely to fall to eight per cent from 11.3 per cent this year, Liberia’s growth may decline to 2.5 per cent from 5.9 per cent, and in Guinea, economic output could fall to 2.4 per cent from 3.5 per cent.

“A large-scale and well-coordinated intervention by the international community is urgently needed to help bring the epidemic under control,” Murray said.

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Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia are among the poorest countries in the region and the hardest-hit by the worst Ebola epidemic on record, which has killed nearly 2,300 people.