Ebola assumes economic dimension in West Africa

The Centre for African Democratic Affairs (CADA) has said that the current outbreak of Ebola may inflict broad economic damage on most West African countries if the situation is not contained as soon as possible.

It further observed that the outbreak could have a direct financial effect on government budgets by increasing health expenditures significantly and creating an Ebola-induced economic slowdown on government revenue generation in a region where budgets were already hindered by low tax collection, corruption, mismanagement and bad governance.

These concerns were contained in a press release signed by Mr Frank Adarkwah-Yiadom, Executive Director of CADA and copied to the Ghana News Agency on Tuesday.

The Centre expressed worry that commercial and transport disruptions may also be experienced in the region soon, along with increased health expenditure which might put pressure on budgets and jeopardize economic growth.

It noted that one of the first casualties of any epidemic like Ebola in any economy has often been the tourism sector, and that the region will soon start feeling the impact of the Ebola scare on tourism, with majority of tourists diverting from the region to other destinations.

“The Centre for African Democratic Affairs (CADA) has gathered that Caterpillar, an American company has evacuated a handful of its employees from Liberia; Canadian Overseas Petroleum Limited has suspended a drilling project; Kenya Airways has suspended its flights to all the Ebola-hit West African countries; and the British Airways is canceling flights to a number of countries in West Africa due to the current outbreak of Ebola. CADA has also learnt that ExxonMobil and Chevron are waiting to see whether health officials can contain the danger” the release said.

According to the release, the World Bank estimates that the outbreak could shrink economic growth in Guinea, where the crisis emerged in March, from 4.5 per cent to 3.5 per cent this year.

So far, the Ebola outbreak which has claimed more than 1,300 lives, disrupted commercial activity in the affected areas and wreaked economic damage in countries like Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, though some analysts have argued that the crisis doesn’t threaten the broader African or global economies.

CADA called on governments to walk a fine line between containing the spread of Ebola and causing needless disruption. “Panic is avoided not just by combating an epidemic, but by being seen to do so”, it maintained. GNA

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