Ebola: IMF Raises Concern Over Economies of West African Nations

By @diplomatist10 on
Government health workers administer blood tests to check for the Ebola virus
Government health workers administer blood tests to check for the Ebola virus in Kenema, Sierra Leone, June 25, 2014. Reuters

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has expressed concerns over the economic impact of Ebola disease in African nations like Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.  

The IMF spokesman, Gerry Rice, told the reporters that Ebola outbreak had an acute effect on the macroeconomic and social fabric of these fragile countries in West Africa, reported by Yahoo News.

So far, 1,500 people have died of the deadly hemorrhagic virus. From the remote jungles of southeast Guinea, the disease spread quickly to neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone. Many people also died in Nigeria.

IMF Remedy

According to the spokesman, the IMF will be actively working with all of the three countries to prepare a preliminary economic assessment of the Ebola impact to verify whether additional financing support is required.

The three countries are already under IMF assistance by way of loans under the extended credit facility, which is a long-term IMF programme for poor countries with protracted balance of payments problems.

Among these countries, Guinea has a three-year, $200 million IMF programme.  Liberia will be getting $80 million over three years and Sierra Leone is into a three-year IMF program of about $96 million.

Sierra Leone in Shambles

The Guardian reported that rice, cocoa and cassava fields in Sierra Leone's are among the hardest-hit, from the economic distress that followed the Ebola epidemic. Its repercussions have radiated from remote villages to the financial markets. Many multinational firm who have invested there, are in anxiety.

The economic growth of Sierra Lone was fuelled by a booming mining industry. Many foreign companies including London Mining invested there. Now London Mining's shares were hit after the company reduced forecasts because of the Ebola crisis.  The British firm also had to move some of its personnel from Sierra Leone. The commercial banks also reduced working hours to minimize contact with the clients.

David McLachlan-Karr, UN country coordinator for Sierra Leone, observed that beyond a health crisis, Sierra Lone faced with a whole range of knock-on effects. The bigger concern is about a long term impact on the development aspirations.  

The West African athletes were banned from Youth Olympics this month. Even African countries unaffected by Ebola, are suffering. The Korean Airlines cut down flights to Kenya even though the latter had no record of Ebola outbreak.

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