East Africa continues to prosper despite Covid-19

By Nicholas Norbrook
Posted on Wednesday, 3 March 2021 18:22

Mombasa port is the hub for a vast majority of East Africa’s trade, with its efficient infrastructure and transport links (AP Photo/Gideon Maundo)

For those keeping an eye on where might bounce back fastest post-Covid, East Africa might be a good place to start.

Yes, the collapse of tourism is hitting the region hard.

But it is one of the world’s fastest-­growing areas outside of Asia, with a 2021 growth rebound of 4.8% predicted by the IMF. There are deep-seated reasons for that, which include the end of conflicts in certain countries, and strong state investments in physical and social infrastructure. Life expectancy at birth in East Africa has risen by almost seven years over the past decade.

The structure of East Africa’s economies may also play a role in its resilience, argues Andrew Mold, who is in charge of the East Africa office of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). Households in the region tend to be rural and focused on agriculture, a resilient sector. The price of commodities like oil has been slashed, which has eased East African countries’ import bills, too.