The economic impact of COVID-19 lockdowns in sub-Saharan Africa

Policy brief State and COVID-19

This brief quantifies the direct and immediate impact of COVID-19 lockdowns on people’s livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa:

  • Using new data on income streams under lockdowns in developing countries, researchers simulate the effects of containment measures implemented by 32 countries, focusing on school, public transport, and workplace closures. The impact of workplace closures creates the highest economic costs.
  • The simulations suggest an additional 9.1% of the population in sub-Saharan Africa have immediately fallen into extreme poverty as a result of COVID-19, with about 65% of this increase resulting from the lockdowns themselves. 8 million people (3.6% of population), including 3.9 million of children under 5, are very severely food deprived at the end of an 8-week lockdown.
  • The lockdowns in sub-Saharan African countries are likely to make the savings of about 30% of the population essentially vanish, removing all resilience capacity to future shocks. If the income shock suffered by urban workers in the informal sector persists beyond the end of the lockdowns, 18 million people could continue to be at risk of severe food deprivation.
  • The poor performance of pre-COVID-19 social protection programmes in developing countries suggests that simply expanding existing programmes will do very little to mitigate the economic impact of COVID-19 and the lockdown measures.