Towards a post-Covid-19 economic and financial recovery of local and regional governments in Africa : Overview of recovery plans and economic support measures

The health wave of the Covid-19 pandemic seems less important than those experienced in Europe and Asia. However, Africa remains fragile in terms of health with coverage rates of health structures among the lowest in the world, and all the more so as successive waves of the pandemic are to be feared. In all countries, central, regional and local governments have anticipated by taking the barrier measures that have slowed the spread of the disease. If the contamination figures remain at low levels, the repercussions of the measures taken to prevent the pandemic from developing could call into question the progress made over the past decade in terms of improving the living conditions of the populations.

The economic situation is therefore likely to deteriorate structurally to the point where the African Development Bank (AfDB) forecasts that “nearly 50 million Africans will fall into extreme poverty and that a third of Africans, or 425 million people., live below the poverty line[1]“. The face of this poverty will largely be represented by the increasing numbers of slum dwellers in our cities and informal sector workers [2].

At the territorial level, the impact is likely to be greater according to UCLG Africa [3], particularly in terms of financial resources and investment expenditure of local authorities. The results of simulations carried out from two scenarios[4], based on data from the Observatory of Local Finances, suggest a real collapse in the financial resources of local authorities, of the order of 30% to 60% depending on the regions of Africa and the sizes of cities. As for investment expenditure, their level will drop by around 25% to 40% depending on the regions of Africa and the sizes of cities ; the level of investment spending would be close to 0 for small towns and intermediate towns[5].

On another level, many analysts agree that beyond the issue s of public health, management of the pandemic now questions the development model that most states have adopted in the context of globalization. Beyond issues related to the development of short circuits rather than long circuits, the territorialization of public policies must be at the heart of the changes to come. Among these, the local authorities must, while managing the emergency and the daily problems, put in place the conditions for anticipating the changes that will take place in the long term.

To organize the process of exiting the crisis, it is important to have in sight not only the response to the emergency, but also the implementation of strategies to revive economic activity. The local authorities should fight Covid-19 in three – and often overlapping – phases:

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