The Ebola epidemic continues to cripple the economies of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, and is projected to result in negative or contracting growth in these countries next year as they work to eradicate the virus, according to an Ebola Economic Impact Update released by the World Bank Group. The report comes as World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim begins a two-day visit to West Africa to assess the epidemic’s impact and discuss with governments and international agencies what steps need to be taken to reach the goal of zero cases as soon as possible.
The World Bank Group is now projecting negative growth for 2015 of -0.2% in Guinea (down from pre-crisis estimates of 4.3 percent and 2.0 percent in October) and -2.0% in Sierra Leone (down from 8.9 percent and 7.7 percent in October). In Liberia, where there are signs of progress in containing the epidemic and some increasing economic activity, the updated 2015 growth estimate is 3.0 percent, an increase from 1.0 percent in October but still less than half the pre-crisis estimate of 6.8 percent. These latest projections imply forgone income across the three countries in 2014–15 totaling more than $2 billion.
In October, the World Bank Group released a report on the economic impact of Ebola and stated that said that if the virus continued to surge in the three worst-affected countries and spread to neighboring countries, the two-year regional financial impact could range from a “low Ebola” estimate of $3.8 billion to a “high Ebola” estimate of $32.6 billion by the end of 2015. These estimates of the scale of impact remain valid, given that the epidemic is not yet under control. Further progress toward ending the epidemic combined with a concerted effort to restart business activity and bring back investors could help these countries get back on their feet.