Ethiopia receives $160m from AfDB to fight COVID-19, ease economic pressures

FILE PHOTO - The headquarters of the African Development Bank (AfDB) are pictured in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, September 16, 2016. Picture taken September 16, 2016. REUTERS/Luc Gnago/File Photo
FILE PHOTO – The headquarters of the African Development Bank (AfDB) are pictured in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. REUTERS/Luc Gnago/File Photo

Ethiopia’s efforts to fight the coronavirus received a boost after the African Development Bank (AfDB) approved a grant of $165.08 million to support the East African nation’s response to the health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the AFDB’s Country Manager for Ethiopia, Abdul Kamara, the funds will help strengthen Ethiopia’s health system which, along with the rest of Africa’s, has been forecasted to struggle to cope with the rising number of COVID-19 cases.

The package will assist in refurbishing 300 isolation centers, 34 treatment centers and 100 quarantine centers, a statement from the AfDB said.

“The program will increase the number of COVID-19 testing laboratories, train 45,000 healthcare workers in COVID-19 response, and aid in rolling out a risk-communication and community engagement strategy to raise awareness on transmission and prevention,” Kamara said.

Ethiopia implemented a COVID-19 National Emergency Response Plan (NERP) which seeks to expand social protection coverage for the most vulnerable, enhance capacity to contain the pandemic, and address macro-fiscal imbalances. It also looks to shield the private sector from the effects of the spread of the pandemic.

The funds will also alleviate fiscal pressures on Ethiopia’s economy and, Kamara added, help local businesses and vulnerable households, especially the urban poor.

“The program will also support the government to offset unplanned expenditures deployed to stabilize the economy under the NERP, and funds will be apportioned to protect small businesses in the formal and informal economy in order to preserve approximately 26,000 jobs,” the statement said.

According to the AfDB, Ethiopia’s economic growth is expected to be between 2.6 and 3.1 percent, down from about 7.2 percent, due to the disruptions arising from the pandemic.

“The pandemic is also expected to negatively impact the private sector, especially in the construction, exports, and tourism and travel sub-sectors. Ethiopia’s tourism sector accounts for about 9.4% of GDP and employs some 2.2 million people. COVID-19 is expected to further reduce inflows, constraining the importation of raw materials.”

As of July 3, Ethiopia has reported 5,846 confirmed cases, 103 deaths and 2,430 recoveries, according to the Africa CDC.