West Africa’s Ebola virus outbreak has killed more than 6,900 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and will have an even greater economic impact in those countries than previously expected.
The World Bank issued a set of revised economic estimates for 2014 and 2015 on Tuesday as part of a report that suggests Guinea’s economy will grow just 0.5 percent in 2014, down from 4.5 percent, and Sierra Leone will grow 4.0 percent, down from 11.3 percent, while Liberia’s will increase 2.2 percent, down from 5.9 percent. The economies of Guinea and Sierra Leone will shrink in 2015, according to the bank’s analysts.
“Combining the effects on revenue and spending with cuts made to public investment to finance the response, the total fiscal impact is well over half a billion dollars in 2014 alone,” the report says.
“All three [countries] had been growing rapidly in recent years and into the first half of 2014,” the analysis says. “But GDP growth estimates for 2014 have been revised sharply downward since pre-crisis estimates.”
Since the outbreak began more than 10 months ago, the working communities of affected countries have been hit hard. Last month, the World Bank reported that half of the Liberian workforce wasn’t working, as other authorities warned of an impending food crisis in all three countries due to low agricultural output and limits on transportation.
Economists have been worried for some time about the economic consequences of the largest outbreak in history. Tuesday’s report is the second time the World Bank has revised its predictions for this year and next.
“As the epidemic continues, these economies will face a difficult year in 2015, as second-round effects kick in and investor aversion takes a further toll,” the report says, with a prediction that Sierra Leone and Guinea will see their economies shrink, while Liberia’s growth will be just half of what it was before Ebola.