Number of Africans living in extreme poverty projected to see a sharp increase in 2021

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  • Due to adverse effects of COVID-19
  • An additional of between 34 and 49.2 million expected in 2021
  • Over 70% of global poverty is in Africa
  • Remittances to Africa also expected to decline in 2021

HARARE – The number of people living in extreme poverty in Africa, namely those living on less than US$1.90 per day is projected to see a sharp rise in 2021 due to the exacerbating effects of the global coronavirus (COVID-19).

According to a recent report titled “African regional review of implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration,” produced by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the number was projected to reach 425.2 million at the end of 2020.

“In a baseline scenario, that figure is now likely to increase to some 453.4 million as a result of the economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic but could rise to some 462.7 million in a worst-case scenario, leading to an increase in the number of people living in extreme poverty in Africa by between 34 and 49.2 million,” says the report.

The continent’s entire population stands at approximately 1.3 billion and over 70 percent of global poverty is in African countries.

The COVID-19 pandemic has severely disrupted trade and travel, leading to a spike in unemployment.

“This threatens to undo much of the progress that has been achieved in recent years on key development indicators and has further worsened the long-standing migrant “protection crisis”, in that increasing numbers of migrants are facing food insecurity and compromised access to health-care services,” says the report.

To make matters worse, the report also projects remittances to Africa to fall by 5.4 percent from US$44 billion in 2020 to US$41 billion in 2021 due to the adverse effects of COVID-19.

Remittances which are now part of the leading foreign currency generators for countries like Zimbabwe play a key role in alleviating poverty and boost food security to recipients.

The report recommends that African countries should address the drivers of migration by intensifying efforts to eradicate poverty, create jobs and foster good governance. They should effectively implement frameworks for development, including, in particular, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Agenda 2063 of the African Union.

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