Although the pandemic has remained fairly contained in Senegal, its economic impact has been severe. Strong fiscal and monetary policy support has helped bolster the health system and cushion the economic shock, with additional fiscal spending exceeding 3 percent of GDP. The IMF disbursed US$442 million (100 percent of quota) under the RFI/RCF in April to support the crisis response. An ambitious 2021–23 economic recovery plan aims to build a more resilient economy and support inclusive and private sector-led growth. WAEMU Finance Ministers agreed to return to the 3 percent of GDP fiscal deficit anchor more gradually (by 2023) owing to the pandemic’s impact and the security challenges in the Sahel.
With one of the world’s lowest levels of human development, Niger has enormous needs but only limited own resources to meet them. Insecurity in the Sahel, climate change, and low prices for its uranium exports are further challenges. Niger’s economy performed reasonably well before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. GDP growth exceeded 6 percent and large foreign projects were attracted, notably a pipeline for the export of crude oil. A new government will take office in April 2021.
The security crisis is worsening and is leading to disruption of basic public services and an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. The Covid19 outbreak and the authority’s response to contain its spread further compounded the situation. Presidential and legislative elections are scheduled for November 2020. Outlook and risks. The economic impacts of the global and domestic measures to contain the spread of the COVID19 pandemic have been stronger than expected. Real GDP contracted by 1.4 percent and 8.6 percent (y-o-y) in the first and second quarters of 2020, respectively. The economic outlook remains uncertain, with growth expected to stand around -2.8 percent in 2020 (down from 6 percent forecast prior to the pandemic). Inflation is expected to pick up and reach 4.1 percent by end-2020. The fiscal deficit in 2020 is expected to widen to about 5.3 percent of GDP, to accommodate an effective response to the Covid19 and security shocks. The main risks to the outlook are the uncertainty surrounding the duration of the pandemic and the security crisis.
The Covid-19 pandemic has ended a period of buoyant growth averaging about 6 ½ percent over the last 6 years. Containment measures, lower external demand, reduced remittances, and the sudden stop of travel and tourism are taking a significant toll on the economy. Without forceful policy measures, the current crisis could unravel development gains over the last decade. The authorities have taken strong actions to contain the pandemic and mitigate its economic fallout, supported by significant additional external financing from Senegal’s development partners. The IMF disbursed US$442 million (100 percent of quota) under the RFI/RCF in April.
The development of infrastructure is one of the pillars of the Emerging Gabon Strategic Plan (PSGE). Implemented as of 2012, the PSGE has been establishing priority strategic guidelines to transform Gabon into an emerging economy by 2025. Its primary aims are to ensure and expedite the country’s sustainable development and growth by focusing on potential growth sectors. Public investment grew continuously from 2009 to 2013, when it peaked at 15.2 percent of GDP; it averaged 5.7 percent growth from 1990 to 2018. At the same time, private investment declined, as did growth and public capital stock. These outcomes indicate that public investment in Gabon does not drive growth and that investment expenditure does not automatically translate into actual accumulation of assets, which raises questions about the efficiency of those outlays.
Economic growth averaged 6.5 percent over the past five years, boosted by public investment under phase I of Senegal’s development strategy, the “Plan Sénégal Émergent” (PSE), and buoyant private consumption. High public financing needs led to a rapid increase in public debt and a widening of the current account deficit. The outlook remains favorable provided Senegal strictly adheres to the WAEMU fiscal deficit target of 3 percent of GDP and creates fiscal space for investment through enhanced revenue mobilization and spending efficiency to stabilize public debt. Hydrocarbon production is projected to start in 2022. The authorities requested the cancellation of the 2015-19 Policy Support Instrument (PSI) in early 2019 (with only one review left), and are now requesting approval of a three-year program supported by the Policy Coordination Instrument (PCI) to underpin implementation of the second phase of the PSE.
Despite some electoral cycle-related uncertainties—the preparation and holding of the Presidential election in December 2018 and Parliamentary elections in May 2019—economic developments remained favorable in 2018 and the first months of 2019. Macroeconomic slippages were limited, with spending strictly contained within budget limits. The stable functioning of public institutions allowed for continued implementation of the economic reform program.