On April 15, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved six-month debt service relief for twenty-five low-income countries, including the Sahelian countries Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, and Niger.
The IMF has also given disbursements to each of those countries to help offset the impact of COVID-19.
Burkina Faso ($115.3 million, approved April 14):
The immediate challenge is to contain the spread of COVID-19, strengthen medical care, implement the social distancing and other containment measures, and mitigate the socio-economic impact of the pandemic, especially on the most vulnerable.
The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Burkina Faso is rapidly unfolding, with the short-term outlook worsening quickly. The pandemic comes at a time when Burkina Faso was already gripped by a heightened security crisis. The authorities responded by putting in place measures to help contain the spreading of the virus, including by closing schools and universities, banning mass gatherings, and suspending international travel. Though absolutely needed to contain the outbreak these measures, together with the global response, have significantly worsened the economic outlook in the near term, with real economic growth declining substantially, and both the fiscal and balance of payments deficits widening significantly.
Chad ($115.1 million, approved April 14):
Due to a significant deterioration of the macroeconomic outlook and weakening of fiscal situation, urgent external and fiscal financing needs have emerged. The IMF’s support will make a substantial contribution to filling immediate external needs and preserving fiscal space for essential COVID-19-related health expenditure. It is also expected to help catalyze additional donor support.
Mali ($200.4 million, approved April 30):
This assistance will help support urgent spending on health services and assistance to affected firms and households, while preserving overall social spending.
The COVID-19 shock hit the economy hard amid an already challenging social and security situation. The economic outlook has deteriorated significantly, and growth is expected to slow to below 1 percent, increasing already high unemployment and poverty.
Mauritania ($130 million, approved April 23):
The COVID-19 pandemic is having a dramatic human, economic, and social impact on Mauritania. The short-term economic outlook has deteriorated rapidly and growth is expected to turn negative this year, with severe hardships for the population, and the outlook is subject to considerable uncertainty. These developments have given rise to urgent balance of payment and fiscal financing needs.
The IMF’s financial assistance under the RCF will provide a sizable share of the financing needed to implement the anti-crisis measures. Additional concessional and grant financing from the international community will be critical to close the remaining financing gap and help Mauritania respond effectively to the COVID-19 crisis.
Niger ($114.5 million, approved April 14):
The COVID-19 pandemic is having a pronounced negative economic impact on Niger and downside risks are significant. The economic downturn, fiscal pressures, and tightening financial conditions are giving rise to large financing gaps in Niger’s public finances and balance of payments this year.
A substantial widening of this year’s budget deficit is appropriate, reflecting unavoidable revenue shortfalls and pressing spending needs for health care, social protection, and support for hard-hit businesses.
Senegal ($442 million, approved April 13):
The Covid-19 pandemic is hitting Senegal hard. The sharp global economic downturn and domestic containment measures have led to a substantial reduction in economic activity, with sectors such as tourism, transport, construction, and retail particularly hard-hit, and the pandemic in Europe is also translating into lower remittances. As a result, the short-term economic outlook has deteriorated significantly, with large uncertainties surrounding the duration and spread of the pandemic.