Government ministers across Africa have called for the suspension of debt interest payments as the Covid-19 crisis deepens.
The numbers of cases being reported in Africa are still behind Europe and the US but rises are being confirmed in South Africa, Kenya, Egypt, Algeria and Burkina Faso, among others, and there is fear of what economic consequences the pandemic might wreak.
Well, of course they’re calling for debt relief. When don’t they?
However, this is going to be instructive. Those African countries aren’t going to shut down. Simply because some of them at least are living at the edge already. An economic shutdown doesn’t mean a fall in GDP, or the loss of some output. It means significant numbers of people falling below the survival line.
Which will give us the counter-example. What does Covid-19 do if there isn’t that economic shutdown? Against which we’ll be able to measure the costs of what we’ve done.
Which will be interesting. Even if the experiment isn’t one we’d perform – because it would be horrific to deliberately do nothing for a population – it’s one that will happen.