The Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa (CSEA) and The African School of Economics (ASE), recently lent their voices to two separate appeals to developed countries of the world, to offer the urgently-needed assistance to Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in their struggle with the Coronavirus pandemic.
Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Prof. Leonard Wantchekon, founders of CSEA and ASE respectively, are part of a group of 20 global experts in Economics and Health, who collectively signed a letter to members of G20 ahead of an extraordinary meeting on the pandemic, urging them to quickly come to the aid of the developing world in this crisis. They are both also part of a group of over 200 world leaders and experts (including former British prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown) who signed a letter to the G20 after the release of the communique from their extraordinary meeting, outlining the specific, critical, resource-requirements for the various necessary lines of aid-effort in healthcare and economic terms for poor countries.
For months, the healthcare capacities of even the most high-income countries have been overwhelmed by COVID-19, and the forced mitigation-response of population lockdowns (to prevent spread through human-contact) have left their economies tethering on the brink of recession. Even though the numbers of infected in Third World countries remain relatively low for the most part so far, their situations are expected to greatly worsen shortly. This bodes rather ill for these poorer economies – in the sense that the extent of their healthcare-response preparedness will prove immensely deficient in the event of ballooning infection-rates, and their already-fragile economies will not survive the demobilization of their labour forces in necessary lockdowns for very long. As a matter of fact, what is greatly feared is that the imminent circumstances of profound lack in support (resource and medical) to impoverished populations in the face of stringent social restrictions and growing infections will cause these societies to explode with unrest. Hence, these countries are in dire need of emergency resource-aid on the economic and healthcare fronts, or they will face deep and multidimensional crises very soon. While the G20 has since responded, in their delay of debt-repayment for poor nations till between 2022 and 2024, this will sadly not suffice, and nothing short of full debt-forgiveness, as well as the required resource-aid, will allow these countries the fiscal heft to stand a fighting chance.
CSEA and ASE are two of the continents leading institutions in economic policy research, and as such are at the forefront of the advocacy to rescue African economies and societies, as well as those of other developing countries, from the certain chaos that this pandemic portends. With a history of successful collaborations in policy-development for the African continent – such as the Research on Improving Systems of Education (RISE) initiative, both institutions have fittingly united in this all-important and timely push for resource-aid to poorer nations, in the hopes of spurring all the necessary action from global leaders, and expediently.