Impact of Ebola on regional integration - CNBC Africa

Impact of Ebola on regional integration

Western Africa

by Elayne Wangalwa 0

The Ebola outbreak could cost West African economies more than 32 billion US dollars by the end of 2015. PHOTO: Nigeria Monitor

During an annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Africa’s biggest economy, Nigeria, the impact of Ebola in terms of economic relations has taken a toll on the continent.

(READ MORE: Ebola shrinks West Africa's poorest economies)

“Ebola has come at bad time for the continent in that we have been doing very well and the impact on Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea and the West Africa region, according to studies, are losing about 35 billion US dollars,” Charles Okeahalam, CEO of AGH Capital told CNBC Africa.

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According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) the outbreak is ‘the most severe, acute health emergency seen in modern times’. Whether this outbreak will have an impact on Africa’s economic growth - which was projected to rise from 4.9 per cent in 2013 to about 5.5 per cent this year - is yet to be seen.

“I think the key thing for us as Africans is to recognise that this a major threat. [Africa needs to] participate and communicate with the rest of the globe in trying to resolve it and take resolute action and there are good examples of this. Such as in Nigeria, which the information is that this [Ebola] has been curbed, which means there is a solution if there is proactive action taken,” Okeahalam said.

According to Okeahalam, African states should communicate effectively and educate citizens about Ebola to stop the further spread of the virus. The outbreak has claimed more than 4,000 lives and more than 8,300 suspected, probable and confirmed cases have been reported in West Africa and in the United States as well as Spain, who recently reported cases.

(READ MORE: Ebola fears spread as Spanish nurse worsens, British man tested)

Economic growth in the hardest hit states - Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia - is forecasted to reduce by 2 per cent as cross-border markets have been shut down and farmers have fled affected zones, leaving decayed crops in fields, a significant contributor to the GDP.

Up to 40 per cent of farms have been abandoned in areas of Sierra Leone affected the worst by the Ebola outbreak. The World Bank revised down its economic growth estimate for Guinea by one percentage point following the deadly epidemic.

(READ MORE: Ebola outbreak may destroy world's major cocoa suppliers)

The United Nation (UN) has urged the international community to step up response to the humanitarian crisis in West Africa. According to the UN a twentyfold increase in resources and healthcare professionals is urgently needed to slow down the rate of infection.

The fatality rate of the current strain is at about 50 per cent. Nonetheless, there are various experimental treatments and vaccines currently in development.

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