COVID-19 Unprecedented Risk to SDGs in Africa

By August 10, 2020 September 15th, 2020 Research

With only 10 years to the realization of 2030 SDG targets and the World remaining off targets, 2020 marked the launch of “a decade of action” aimed at accelerating progress. On the other end, the global pandemic in Coronavirus emerged and spread rapidly, leading to loss of human life – bringing the World to its knees across all sectors at a pace never witnessed before. Global recession is expected in 2020 and Sub-Saharan Africa has not been spared, with negative GDP growth of record magnitude forecast in 50 years (IMF, 2020). However, the true extent of the impact in terms of magnitude, intensity and severity is contingent upon the pace of finding a healthy and lasting solution to the virus. Otherwise, the risk of longer recovery is imminent and likely. The immediate impact has manifested through lockdowns (partial or full), with over 42 African countries in outright restrictive measures (travel, border closure, closure of schools, and a ban of public gatherings including religious ones (IMF, 2020). The backdrop is not good news for the Sustainable Development Goals for Africa, where progress has been off track the 2030 targets.

Evidence suggests that a reduction in growth translates into an increase into poverty and vice versa (World Bank, 2020c). Food poverty is likely to increase or even double as indicated in the Global Report on Food Crises (WFP, 2020). Correlations between SDGs also do exist, implying one affected SDG will trickle into other SDGs (SDGCA & SDSN, 2019). Financing for SDGs is now tilted to the downside. Africa is increasingly more at crossroads with the low revenue envisaged, narrow fiscal space exhibited by heightened debt risks and yet nations are adopting expansionary fiscal policies to avert the twin crisis (health and economic). Overall, deductively the three core elements of the SDGs, growth, inclusion and environmental sustainability, will be compromised

It is against this backdrop, that this report by The SDG Center in Africa details the likely impact of COVID-19 on SDGs in Africa. To the extent of our extensive review, there is no exclusive study on SDGs and COVID-19 in Africa. This report focused on the twin crisis (heath and economic), with attention on the economic growth pillar (including financing for development) and people (selectively proxied by SDG 1-4). The methodological approach adopted for this report utilizes both qualitative and quantitative measures, each subchapter takes an ex-ante analysis due to lack of data and where it was feasible and data prevails – the study provides inferential and scenario analysis. On select goals, trend analysis is undertaken mapping both the SDGs normal line without COVID-19 and the adjusted forecasts factoring in COVID-19. The latter relies on assumptions built from empirical studies used to backstop the growing narrative on the impact of COVID-19.

Click here for the link to the report.