Kenyan flower exports have dropped by two-thirds © Patrick Meinhardt/AFP/Getty Images
Kenyan flower exports have dropped by two-thirds © Patrick Meinhardt/AFP/Getty Images

Africa still needs $44bn to fight Covid-19 economic impact

23 April 2020

Efforts to find the estimated $114bn Africa needs to fight the economic impact of the coronavirus have so far raised $57bn.

The money is to provide front-line health services, support the poor and vulnerable, and keep economies afloat in the face of the worst global economic downturn since the 1930s.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has described it as “an important start” but said the continent still needs an estimated $44bn to reach the level of funding the banks consider sufficient.  

IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva said it would be critical for African countries to work together especially on the health response and on limiting trade disruptions to ensure freer movement of medical and food supplies.

The IMF said as around 89% of workers in Sub-Saharan Africa alone worked in the informal economy, countries need to take immediate steps to expand social safety net programs and support workers and SMEs.

Separately, Rwanda’s government is to allow some construction companies to continue major development projects despite the country’s lockdown.

KT Press said the government would make an exception to lockdown for major development projects that are close to deadline or are considered to be important for the country or may cause disruption if not finished on time.

Projects include the construction of nine health facilities and schools as well as roadworks and work on the rehabilitation of water treatment plants.

The Ministry of Environment has also given the go-ahead for maintenance of trees and nurseries at Nyandungu Urban Wetland Eco-Tourism Park to avoid environmental degradation.

Flood mitigation work in Musanze and Burera will continue to take place, where water channels will be built to fight against erosion. These areas have a high risk of flooding in the country’s April rainy season.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of jobs in East African flower-exporting countries like Kenya and Ethiopia are in danger after flower sales collapsed due to lockdowns around the world, according to allafrica.com.

Flower sales have all but stopped at the world’s busiest flower auction market Aalsmeer, just outside of Amsterdam, where many flowers are sold around the world. This is producing a knock-on effect for Africa’s leading flower growing countries.

Flower exports bring in about $1bn annually to the Kenyan economy but have dropped by about two-thirds in recent weeks, costing the industry and the country millions in revenue.

Hosea Machuki, CEO of the Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya, was quoted as saying: "We have about 350,000 Kenyans directly employed and at the moment about 200,000 are likely to lose their jobs on account of loss of business."

Neighbouring Ethiopia, the second-largest African flower exporter, is exporting only about 20% of its usual volume.

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