Counting the Cost

Dr Carlos Lopes: Ebola’s economic impact

The executive secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa discusses a new UNECA report on Ebola.

While the Ebola outbreaks in both Nigeria and Senegal officially ended in October 2014, a new United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) report says there have been 13,241 cases identified and 4,950 deaths reported in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone so far. `

The report notes the risk of a rise in mortality of diseases not related to Ebola and points out the wider impacts of the virus, like the educational system being shut down, social stigmas, rising unemployment, and decreased food security. 

However, Dr Carlos Lopes tells Counting the Cost that, while the social and economic situation in the three most affected countries is dramatic, the crisis for Africa is exaggerated.

According to the report, West Africa has been the fastest growing region in Africa in recent years. Based on 2013’s estimates, the three Ebola countries taken together only represent 2.42 percent of West Africa’s GDP and 0.68 percent of Africa’s GDP, so West Africa’s overall growth should remain robust.

Lopes says: “In Africa we are dealing with a stigma that is growing by the day and this is going to affect economies that have nothing to do with Ebola.”