He made these comments at the 24th African Business Conference organized by the Harvard Business School.
Speaking on how African countries can shake off the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr. Mahama highlighted the adverse impact of the pandemic on the African continent.
“Data from the Economic Commission of Africa, ECA shows that Covid-19 created the continent’s worst recession in 50 years with real GDP shrinking by an average of 3% in 2020. Before the pandemic, poverty reduction was already a major challenge. The pandemic is estimated to have dragged about 55 million more people into poverty in Africa and exposed another 46 million more to the risk of hunger, and malnourishment. Indeed 70% of hunger in Africa, which had already been on the rise since 2014 is directly attributable to this pandemic.”
“Like governments all over the world, it became necessary for African governments to take action to shield their population from the effects of the pandemic. This meant in many cases an increase in deficits due to unbudgeted expenditures. This has devastated many African economies and sank them deeper into unsustainable debts and economic downturns. The pandemic has had a general deleterious effect on the economy of African nations. But some countries have ridden the wave more successfully than others due to the resilience of their economy, discipline, and prudent use of their resource envelopes during the period of the crisis.”
Narrowing down on his country, Ghana, the former President said the country’s current leadership, unlike other countries, was not proactive enough to have put in place measures to ease the plight of Ghanaians in the face of the pandemic.
“In my country Ghana, our economy has emerged in extremely poor shape from the Covid experience. The ballooning deficit, double-digit inflation, the nose-diving currency, and increasing debt distress, are some of the symptoms of a very ill economy. Ghana’s fate was easy to predict with the cavalier handling of the economy by the current administration. We went into the pandemic without adequate buffers, and have emerged with a terribly battered economy.”
“To make matters worse, the pandemic windfall of over GH¢33 billion which could have cushioned the economy remains unaudited and is believed to have been used largely in the quest to win the 2020 elections at all cost,” he added.