São Tomé and Príncipe has maintained macroeconomic stability in the period since the previous ECF review (February 2021). International support and the authorities’ swift actions helped mitigate the impact of the pandemic so far. Growth is estimated at 3 percent in 2020, supported by externally-financed spending. Growth is projected to slow to 2 percent in 2021, reflecting delays in the return of tourists, and to strengthen to 3 percent in 2022. The economic outlook is subject to high uncertainty and downside risks, notably the evolution of the pandemic.
Guinea-Bissau is a fragile state with considerable needs to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and address developmental challenges. After an estimated 1.4 percent of GDP contraction in 2020, a modest recovery of about 3.3 percent is projected for 2021 on the back of higher cashew exports, the gradual lifting of COVID containment measures and a more stable political situation. The outlook is subject to considerable uncertainty. An RCF disbursement of SDR 14.2 million (50 percent of quota) was approved in January to provide urgent financing (35 percent of the external gap in 2021) to support critical spending in health and catalyze additional donor resources. The RCF followed two years of protracted political turmoil and delays in reforms, now undertaken by the new government. Public debt was assessed as sustainable in a forward-looking sense based on the authorities’ commitment to sound policies supported by strong donor engagement and a Fund program. Debt service relief under the CCRT has provided some fiscal space and the country’s participation in the DSSI should also help mobilize additional resources. After the 2021 budget approval within the statutory deadlines, significant and sustained reform efforts are required to meet the WAEMU 3 percent of GDP overall balance criteria by 2025 and bring public debt-to-GDP ratio within 70 percent by end-2026.
Near-term macroeconomic prospects continue to improve in the context of higher oil prices and a gradual global recovery from the pandemic shock, but the medium-term outlook remains challenging and highly uncertain. Oil production remains muted, debt and inflation remain elevated, and non-oil activity is expected to recover only gradually. However, continued strong fiscal performance (aided by higher oil revenues), exchange rate stabilization, and a return to positive non-oil growth would contribute to a reduction in the debt-to-GDP ratio this year, easing debt vulnerabilities.
While improving, the economic outlook remains highly challenging, given the slow and uncertain recovery from the COVID-related shocks. Heavily dependent on oil, the Angolan economy has suffered from weakness in that sector, with falling production (related to the pandemic) and only a partial rebound in international prices recently. These shocks have led to a fifth straight year of recession and hardship. The public debt-to-GDP ratio has risen to very elevated levels, driven by recent real exchange rate depreciation. Nevertheless, strong fiscal performance and active debt management are setting the stage for a gradual economic recovery and reduction in debt vulnerabilities.
Urgent steps are needed to arrest the rising human toll and economic strain from the COVID-19 pandemic that are exacerbating already-diverging recoveries. Pandemic policy is also economic policy as there is no durable end to the economic crisis without an end to the health crisis. Building on existing initiatives, this paper proposes pragmatic actions at the national and multilateral level to expeditiously defeat the pandemic. The proposal targets: (1) vaccinating at least 40 percent of the population in all countries by the end of 2021 and at least 60 percent by the first half of 2022, (2) tracking and insuring against downside risks, and (3) ensuring widespread testing and tracing, maintaining adequate stocks of therapeutics, and enforcing public health measures in places where vaccine coverage is low. The benefits of such measures at about $9 trillion far outweigh the costs which are estimated to be around $50 billion—of which $35 billion should be paid by grants from donors and the residual by national governments potentially with the support of concessional financing from bilateral and multilateral agencies. The grant funding gap identified by the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator amounts to about $22 billion, which the G20 recognizes as important to address. This leaves an estimated $13 billion in additional grant contributions needed to finance our proposal. Importantly, the strategy requires global cooperation to secure upfront financing, upfront vaccine donations, and at-risk investment to insure against downside risks for the world.
Sub-Saharan Africa is still contending with an unprecedented health and economic crisis. In the months since the October 2020 Regional Economic Outlook: Sub-Saharan Africa, the region has confronted a second coronavirus (COVID-19) wave that swiftly outpaced the scale and speed of the first. While this episode has eased for now, many countries are bracing for further waves, particularly as access to vaccines remains scant.
Guinea Bissau is a fragile state with a long history of political instability. Poverty is high with about 67 percent of the population living below the poverty line of US$1.90 per day. The economy relies heavily on the production and exports of unprocessed cashew nuts, making most households highly vulnerable to cashew nut price shocks and climate change risks.
The economic outlook has substantially deteriorated since the Second Review, driven by the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on global economic activity and oil prices. The adverse impact of the shock on the Angolan economy, which is highly dependent on oil (95 percent of exports, two-thirds of government revenue), adds to the hardship from five consecutive years of recession. Rapid exchange rate depreciation and the decline in oil prices have pushed the public debt-to-GDP ratio to a very high level. However, continued fiscal retrenchment, prudent debt management, and debt reprofiling are expected to improve debt dynamics progressively.