Speaking at the opening of the continental Africa Travel and Tourism Summit on Monday, Sisulu said Africa’s recovery from the pandemic was not going to be easy. Picture: Siyasanga Mbambani/DoC
Speaking at the opening of the continental Africa Travel and Tourism Summit on Monday, Sisulu said Africa’s recovery from the pandemic was not going to be easy. Picture: Siyasanga Mbambani/DoC

Covid-19 continues to be a major threat to Africa’s recovery, says Lindiwe Sisulu

By Given Majola Time of article published Sep 20, 2021

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AFRICA will have to find other sources of funding to help drive Africa’s recovery from the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, said South African Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu.

Speaking at the opening of the continental Africa Travel and Tourism Summit on Monday, Sisulu said that Africa’s recovery from the pandemic was not going to be easy.

“The African Development Bank in its African Economic Outlook 2021, indicates that most African economies were battered by the Covid-19 pandemic. Real GDP in Africa contracted by 2.1 percent and is projected to grow by 3.4 percent this year,” Sisulu said.

She said that this projected recovery would be underpinned by a resumption of tourism, a rebound in commodity prices and the rollback of pandemic-induced restrictions.

“Although all economies in Africa have been affected by the pandemic, tourism-dependent economies, oil-exporting economies and other-resource intensive economies were the most significantly hit by the pandemic.

“Tourism-dependent economies are projected to recover from an 11.5 percent GDP decline in 2020 to grow by 6.2 percent in 2021; oil-exporting countries, from a 1.5 percent decline to grow by 3.1 percent; and other-resource-intensive economies, from a 4.7 percent decline to grow by 3.1 percent. Non-resource-intensive countries, where output shrank by 0.9 percent in 2020, are projected to grow by 4.1 percent in 2021.”

The bank reported there would be a surge in African government financing needs to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020, governments have announced fiscal stimulus packages ranging in cost from about 0.02 percent of GDP in South Sudan to about 10.4 percent of GDP in South Africa.

The bank estimates African governments will need gross financing of about $154 billion in 2020/21 to respond to the crisis. This amount constitutes 97 percent of the World Bank’s $157 billion it has deployed to fight the health, economic and social impacts of the pandemic in the whole world.

Sisulu says this means other sources of funding would have to be found to help drive Africa’s recovery from the pandemic.

The tourism minister also said despite the economic growth prospects outlined above, the continued uncertainty about when the virus would finally be contained will continue to pose a major threat to Africa’s recovery. Sisulu said it was important that Africa continued to pay attention to policy priorities that sought to mitigate the impact of the pandemic but also bolster Africa’s transformation to a more resilient, inclusive and sustainable post-pandemic recovery.

She said it would be critically important that it continued to focus on the following priorities, among other initiatives that individual countries were taking which included continuing to support the health sector to consolidate gains in the fight against the pandemic and effectively using monetary and fiscal support to underpin the economic recovery where policy space remained available. She also said expanding social safety nets and making growth more equitable to address increasing poverty, scaling up active labour market policies to retool the workforce for the future of work, intensifying structural transformation through digitalisation and economic diversification to build resilience and fostering regional and multinational cooperation to ensure sustained and widespread recovery.

The minister said that as the continent embarked on new ways of doing business and hosting the people of the world, it had to draw lessons from the experiences of the pandemic and ensure its businesses are more robust and agile for future sustainability as the world would soon certainly gather again like it did before. “It is therefore important that we are aligned as a continent when we adopt measures to reignite the tourism industry. This is crucial for building an inclusive recovery,” said Sisulu.

South African Tourism acting chief executive Sthembiso Dlamini said the summit provided a platform for governments on the continent, industry associations, country tourism authorities, organisations and industry experts to collaborate and engage in dialogue around issues and policies affecting tourism. “The future of travel and tourism is going to be very different to the pre-Covid era. And we best prepare for it. There is no better place to start preparing than here, at Africa’s Travel and Tourism Summit,” said Dlamini.

Speaking at the Covid-19 Snapshot, director-general of the Tourism Department Victor Tharage said scenario-based planning was crucial to mitigating the impact of unforeseen destabilising events. “You need a countrywide risk management plan that kicks in. You must imagine these eventualities, and draw up multiple plans you can draw on all the time. Your solutions must not be data-based but data-informed that could take you into the future,” said Tharage.

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