By Mustapha Sumaila
The African Development Bank (AfDB) says harnessing the youth workforce can speed economic recovery in the post-COVID-19 era in the West African countries.
The AfDB’s Communications and External Department made this known in a statement on Friday on in its regional economic outlook report.
It stated that the virtual launch of the report was jointly hosted by its Regional Development and Business Delivery Office for West Africa, the Nigeria Country Office and the Country Economics Department.
The bank explained that West Africa’s burgeoning youth population offered a strategic workforce which could be harnessed for employment and economic growth.
This, it said, was in spite of COVID-19 pandemic that was devastating the continent and global economies.
The bank said growth in West Africa, poised to expand by 4.0 per cent in 2020, was now projected to contract by at least -2.0 per cent in 2020.
“As a result of the pandemic, growth in the West Africa region, which was poised to expand by 4.0 per cent in 2020, following growth of 3.6 per cent in 2019, is now projected to contract by -2.0 per cent in 2020, and could fall by as much as -4.3 per cent in a worst-case scenario.
“Countries that depend on oil and tourism for foreign exchange and fiscal revenues will especially face reduced fiscal space and heightened external account imbalances, stoking a build-up of public debt” the bank stated.