Sub-Saharan Africa

Regional Economic Outlook for Sub-Saharan Africa

October 2020






A Difficult Road to Recovery

Sub-Saharan Africa is contending with an unprecedented health and economic crisis— one that, in just a few months, has jeopardized years of hard-won development gains and upended the lives and livelihoods of millions. The current outlook for 2020–21 is broadly unchanged from the June update, with activity in 2020 projected to contract by 3.0 percent, still the worst outcome on record. For 2021, regional growth should recover modestly to 3.1 percent. This outlook is subject to some key downside risks, particularly regarding the path of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resilience of the region’s health systems. These risks are compounded by uncertainty on the availability of external financing, with associated needs estimated at about $900 billion over 2020–23, the sources of which between $130 billion and $410 billion are unidentified. Overall, the region’s outlook will be shaped by the availability of additional financing and the transformative domestic reforms to promote resilience (including revenue mobilization, digitalization, and fostering better transparency and governance), lift medium-term growth, create opportunities for a wave of new job seekers, and progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).