IMF says Ebola will savage W. African economies

The Ebola epidemic could slice more than three percentage points off economic growth in the worst-hit countries of West Africa, requiring hundreds of millions of dollars in financial aid, the IMF said Thursday.

“Beyond the human toll, Ebola looks set to cause significant harm to the economy of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone,” said International Monetary Fund spokesman Bill Murray.

Growth could fall by 3.5 percentage points in Sierra Leone and Liberia, both of which were expanding quickly, at 11.3 percent and 5.9 percent respectively, prior to the outbreak in March near where their borders meet.

The disease, which has killed 2,300 so far, will have the heaviest effect on farming, mining and services business in the two.

The impact will be smaller but still severe in Guinea, where the crucial mining sector so far has not been hit by Ebola, Murray said. The IMF expects economic growth to be lower by 1.5 percentage points, falling to just two percent.

Murray said the impact of the epidemic could leave a financing hole for three governments of $100-130 million each.

All are already receiving aid from the IMF.

“We’re in active engagement right now with the authorities to help determine how we can cover the additional financing requirement that they’re facing,” he said.


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