Guiné-Bissau vulnerável ao choque do COVID-19

The socioeconomic impact of the new coronavirus pandemic is already being felt worldwide, including Guinea-Bissau, due to the preventive measures adopted by governments and the very limitations of the countries' production caused by the disease.

24 Apr 2020

Guiné-Bissau vulnerável ao choque do COVID-19

Many governments have already announced measures to stimulate the financial system, safeguard small and medium-sized enterprises and protect families and workers. Other countries are studying emergency packages to try to reverse the impact of the pandemic.

In Guinea-Bissau, which was already facing a problem of development aid because of the political crisis, the COVID19 pandemic further complicated the country's economic situation. Dependent on imports and with the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) based on cashew exports, Guinea-Bissau sees its economy practically paralyzed due to quarantine and the closing of borders on a global scale.

 According to Guinean economist, Aliu Soares Cassama, the Guinean economy like any other “suffered a negative impact due to the COVID pandemic19, warning that Guinea's economy, in addition to being extremely weak, is vulnerable to external shock and money laundering.”

“As we know, mid-March and July are considered the peak of economic growth in Guinea-Bissau, that is, the period of commercialization of cashew nuts, a product that represents 90 percent of our country's gross export and contributes 64 percent of gross exports in the UEMOA space ”, adds Aliu Soares Cassama.

With the emergence of new cases, national authorities have adopted measures that regulate the state of emergency and that are also making life difficult for the population living on the informal market.
Aliu Soares Cassama maintains that Guinea-Bissau being a purely importing country, these measures may lead the country to register successive deficits in the trade balance. Conditioning supply restrictions may cause the country to experience rampant inflation, that is, a general increase in prices.

"The women and young people who sell daily in the different markets of the country directly or indirectly contribute 90 percent to economic growth, and many families live on that informal market," said the economist.

 The limitations imposed are provoking reactions from the population that in order to get bread on the table they need to sell, which they are not able to do at the moment because of the disease.

Citizen Mariatu Sané, said they have “coincidence that the disease exists and is very dangerous, but sitting at home without selling they will die of hunger, not of the disease, regretting that the state does not provide assistance to women who are family providers, so they will have to risk their lives and go out on the street to sell and get something to eat ”.

“Many families are experiencing difficulties, before, we use to sold well, but not now, time is short, you go to the market as soon as you start selling, the time has come and you start to fix things again, this is so difficult for us, we are go through many difficulties with this quarantine ”, said Mariatu.

 On the other hand, Saido Djalo, deplores the situation of the people in the tabancas, “who are already starving”, and asks the state to help the populations of the rural areas with foodstuffs to alleviate the hunger of the populations, warning that they live on cashew campaign, and with the coronavirus the campaign was compromised, so they need help from the state.

To help families that are already experiencing difficulties, initiatives such as “TADJAFOME”, “NÔ DJUNTA MON” and others were created with the aim of helping the most needy families with a basic food basket. Several families have already benefited from this aid and are now extending aid to the regions.

Guinea-Bissau has recently benefited from debt forgiveness granted by the International Monetary Fund to 25 poorer countries including Guinea-Bissau to facilitate measures to respond to COVID19. This measure makes it possible to cover repayments related to the debt of these States to this financial institution for six months and in this way "allocate most of their meager resources to efforts in matters of medical urgency and aid", informs the director-general of the IMF, Kristalina Georgieva.

 On the other hand, the African Union recently appointed a group of special envoys to mobilize the international community to support the economy of African countries facing the covid-19 pandemic.

The World Bank, which in Guinea-Bissau finances the response to COVID-19, also warned that the new coronavirus could lead the African continent to one of its worst economic performances in a quarter of a century, warning that the pandemic could also cost $ 37 billion to $ 79 billion in production losses to Africa in 2020 due to a combination of effects such as the disruption of the trade and value chain that impacts commodity exporters and countries with a strong share in trade.

In addition to this support, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD / IFAD) intends to help cashew producers and traders to save the 2020 campaign.

 On April 23, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is organizing an extraordinary conference of Heads of State to analyze the impact of the pandemic and decide on additional measures to support member states. Guinea-Bissau will participate.