Post-Corona Africa: Downward Spiral or Resilient Recovery?

GDI Working Paper 2021-054. Manchester: The University of Manchester

37 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2021

See all articles by Samuel Munzele Maimbo

Samuel Munzele Maimbo

WORLD BANK GROUP; University of Manchester

Xubei Luo

World Bank

Date Written: June 21, 2021


The COVID-19 pandemic is taking a heavy toll on people’s lives and wiping out years of progress in development. This paper examines the impact of the coronavirus on Sub-Saharan Africa. It discusses how the deeply rooted structural weaknesses – high informality, a large youth population with few gainful jobs, and heavy reliance on resource sectors – intertwine with high inequalities and challenging debt dynamics. Illustrating how these weaknesses amplify the negative impact of COVID-19, the paper emphasises how this crisis not only risks leading Africa’s economies to a sharp decrease in income growth but also threatens to push the continent into a downward spiral of low growth, high inequalities and high debt vulnerabilities, making a recovery extremely difficult. Governments in Africa need to swiftly implement measures to address long-existing vulnerabilities and improve the quality of public spending, targeting resources to the most needed areas post-corona; the international community needs to provide more support and help fill the financing gaps. Highlighting the cost of inaction, the paper calls for urgent and timely domestic and international interventions to seize the opportunities to save lives and prioritise sustainable financing for crucial investment in relief, restructuring and recovery, improving productivity and generating more and better jobs, and building a greener, more resilient and inclusive economy.

Keywords: Africa, pandemic crisis, inequality, debt vulnerability, structural characteristics

JEL Classification: N17, H12, D63, H63, L16

Suggested Citation

Maimbo, Samuel Munzele and Luo, Xubei, Post-Corona Africa: Downward Spiral or Resilient Recovery? (June 21, 2021). GDI Working Paper 2021-054. Manchester: The University of Manchester, Available at SSRN: or

Samuel Munzele Maimbo (Contact Author)


1818 H Street
Washington, DC D.C 20433
United States

University of Manchester ( email )

United Kingdom

Xubei Luo

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States

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